Definition of pecking order in US English:

pecking order

(also peck order)


  • A hierarchy of status seen among members of a group of people or animals, originally as observed among hens.

    ‘the luxurious office accentuated the manager's position in the pecking order’
    • ‘The cantor had the second position within the pecking order of ministry.’
    • ‘Some have to find their niche lower down the pecking order.’
    • ‘The new face had to be assessed, evaluated and placed in rank according to the established pecking order.’
    • ‘Crows and falcons are top of the pecking order in the league table of bird-brains, it was revealed today.’
    • ‘Even after you get in there is a strict pecking order to be observed.’
    • ‘‘If we can take care of them again, it puts them down the pecking order,’ said Lambert.’
    • ‘They are poorly resourced and have low status in the bureaucratic pecking order.’
    • ‘The social hierarchies and pecking orders are best revealed through the cell phone calls and text-messaging that the characters almost constantly engage in with each other.’
    • ‘There are other long-term ramifications of teachers slipping down the social pecking order.’
    • ‘Human beings seek to ascertain their place in the pecking order and then ascend.’
    • ‘So when some people object to ‘poverty’, what they're really objecting to is status, and the tendency of human beings to observe and respect status, and to organize themselves into pecking orders.’
    • ‘Those at the bottom of the pecking order scrape by, defying our understanding of what is required to keep body and soul together.’
    • ‘Thus, for centuries, wants have superseded needs on the social pecking order.’
    • ‘Pastors are ranked into a pecking order by whatever numbers their tribe values.’
    • ‘The social pecking order so apparent in Japanese society became equally well defined by certain golf clubs.’
    • ‘Indians, irrespective of their place in the social pecking order, tend to speak loudly.’
    • ‘And their mere existence is a reminder of your position in the pecking order.’
    • ‘But today it appears the social pecking order defined by financial correctness is subtler.’
    • ‘You had to fight, literally, to find your place in the pecking order.’
    • ‘Transfers of power will occur and new pecking orders will be established.’
    range, scale, gamut, spectrum, sweep, compass, span
    View synonyms


pecking order

/ˈpekiNG ˌôrdər/