Definition of precocial in US English:



  • 1(of a young bird or other animal) hatched or born in an advanced state and able to feed itself almost immediately.

    Also called nidifugous
    Often contrasted with altricial
    • ‘Small eggs may jeopardize survival for precocial grouse chicks that rely extensively on nutrient stores after hatching.’
    • ‘Both parents remain with broods for several weeks following hatching of the precocial young.’
    • ‘Males leave the females soon after incubation begins, and females provide uniparental care for precocial young.’
    • ‘Young in precocial birds that are fed by their parents also engage in vocal and postural begging displays.’
    • ‘The young are precocial and are tended by both parents.’
    1. 1.1 (of a particular species) having precocial young.
      • ‘We predicted that species with precocial newborn should have synchronized births as an antipredator strategy.’
      • ‘Lack proposed that for species with precocial young, mean clutch size is determined by the average amount of nutrients available to females at the time of egg production.’


Late 19th century: from modern Latin Praecoces (the name of a former division of birds, plural of Latin praecox ‘mature before its time’) + -ial.