chick·​en | \ ˈchi-kᵊn How to pronounce chicken (audio) , sometimes -kᵊŋ \

Definition of chicken

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : the common domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) especially when young also : its flesh used as food — compare jungle fowl
b : any of various birds or their young
2 : a young woman
3a : coward
b : any of various contests in which the participants risk personal safety in order to see which one will give up first
4 [short for chickenshit] slang : petty details
5 slang : a young male homosexual



Definition of chicken (Entry 2 of 3)

2 slang
a : insistent on petty details of duty or discipline


chickened; chickening\ ˈchi-​kᵊn-​iŋ How to pronounce chickening (audio) , ˈchik-​niŋ \

Definition of chicken (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to lose one's nerve usually used with outseemed to exhibit courage, manliness, and conviction when others chickened out— J. R. Seeley

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Examples of chicken in a Sentence

Noun We had chicken for dinner. It's just a spider, you chicken! Don't be such a big chicken. Adjective too chicken to go through with the stunt just concentrate on the important duties of the job and forget about the chicken stuff
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tea, chicken soup and honey (whether eaten alone or added to drinks) are also good home remedies. Sandee Lamotte And Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "Children's Robitussin and Dimetapp cough medicines recalled due to potential overdose risks," 19 June 2020 Pieces of rabbit ear or chicken liver will have your dog dancing and prancing in no time. The Economist, "Home Entertainment The virtues of dog training in lockdown," 19 June 2020 At the new Capo’s, every pizza on the menu will have the option to come as Detroit-style, including classics like the Dillinger, which has smoked vodka cream sauce, marinated chicken breast and artichoke hearts. Justin Phillips,, "Capo’s reopens for outdoor dining in North Beach with new focus on Detroit-style pizza," 17 June 2020 Stir in the chicken broth, salt, and cumin and bring to a boil over medium heat., "Recipe: Restaurant-Style Mexican Rice," 17 June 2020 Muñoz makes a nice karaage, tender little nubbins of chicken thigh that are battered, fried and dusted with togarashi. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Sushi and sashimi for takeout? Here's how a new downtown Phoenix restaurant does it right," 17 June 2020 Currently, there is a deficiency in finding chicken. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "Kindness. Patience. Support. What 3 small Louisville restaurants have seen from diners," 16 June 2020 Rub spice mixture onto both sides of chicken thighs. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Lower-fat yogurt dressing keeps Chicken Shawarma Salad healthful," 13 June 2020 Regarding the chicken wing-eating contest, a qualifying round will take place later this month at Seven Hills Tavern. John Benson, cleveland, "After canceling Home Days, Seven Hills announces Stay at Home Days 2020, scheduled for July 25," 11 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Maria cut chicken thighs shoulder to shoulder with co-workers who coughed and ran fevers. USA Today, "Cheap chicken, beef came at a cost. How American meat plants bred coronavirus hot spots.," 22 May 2020 Popcorn and chicken wing stands were open, though fewer than on a normal day., "Shanghai Disneyland Reopens With Mask Rule, Fever Checks," 10 May 2020 And thus, our long, arduous, chicken parm journey began. Molly Baz, Bon Appétit, "How Molly Baz Developed BA’s Best Chicken Parm—and Lived to Tell the Tale," 1 May 2020 End Zone’s top-sellers include chicken wing, pizza and draft beer, Lowe says. Matt Wake |, al, "What’s coming to former Moe’s BBQ in South Huntsville?," 31 Jan. 2020 The enormous online marketplace sells salsas, Bloody Mary mixes, chicken wing sauces, barbecue sauces, and of course, hot sauces. Hilary Cadigan, Bon Appétit, "Every Desk Needs a Sauce, and This Is Mine," 2 Mar. 2020 Previously that University building was home to German restaurant Schnitzel Ranch and chicken-wing eateries Beauregard's and Bob Baumhower's. Matt Wake |, al, "What’s coming to former Moe’s BBQ in South Huntsville?," 31 Jan. 2020 This is the recipe worth stocking up for when chicken thighs go on sale. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Six pantry-friendly dinners that will save you time and money," 30 Nov. 2019 Thigh Times Birdhouse Jared Brewington and the team behind Funky Grits have perfected their The Original Chicken Wrib — deboned chicken thighs in a house sauce — for the masses. Nancy Ngo, Twin Cities, "New North Loop food hall features Ono Hawaiian, Wrecktangle Pizza — and Prince-themed cocktails," 17 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Anyone can go online to order any of 3,000 items — from hot dogs to chicken to spray bottles of sanitizer — via the company’s website:, which says there's a minimum order of $100. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Major food supplier for metro Detroit restaurants, casinos is now selling to the public," 25 Mar. 2020 From 'Bama-style chicken sandwiches to to chicken schnitzel, here are our 8 best chicken sandwich recipes. Saveur Editors, Saveur, "The 8 Best Chicken Sandwiches to Upgrade Your Workday Lunch," 5 May 2017 Lunch will be chicken with gnocchi soup, salad, a breadstick and dessert. Carol Kovach, cleveland, "U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety courses offered in Lakewood: A Place in the Sun," 14 Jan. 2020 Add remaining 1 tablespoon sage, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and wine to drippings in pan; bring to a boil. Susan Selasky, Twin Cities, "A tried-and-true method for achieving the perfect Thanksgiving turkey," 16 Nov. 2019 Get our daily newsletter Crucial to winning the game is to appear determined not to chicken out. The Economist, "Preparing for no deal is a paradoxical process," 1 Aug. 2019 The number of chicken-only or chicken-forward restaurants has risen in the past several years, a response to the perception that chicken is healthier than beef. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, "In the chicken sandwich wars, the beef burger still reigns supreme," 29 Oct. 2019 Chicken expert: That meat isn't chicken Dr. Amit Morey, an assistant professor of poultry sciences at Auburn University, warns viewers to be cautious. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "Relax: That viral video of 'zombie chicken' crawling off a plate isn't chicken (probably)," 26 July 2019 But watching Harvey end his second big league relief appearance with a 100 mph fastball and get his first major league victory Tuesday night had to be chicken soup for the soul of their beleaguered fan base. Peter Schmuck,, "Schmuck: Orioles’ arrival of Hunter Harvey, early progress of Adley Rutschman make rebuild more bearable," 22 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chicken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chicken


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chicken


Middle English chiken, from Old English cicen young chicken; akin to Old English cocc cock

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Time Traveler for chicken

Time Traveler

The first known use of chicken was before the 12th century

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Statistics for chicken

Last Updated

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chicken.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for chicken


How to pronounce chicken (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chicken

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bird that is raised by people for its eggs and meat
: the meat of the chicken used as food
informal : a person who is afraid



English Language Learners Definition of chicken (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : too afraid to do something


chick·​en | \ ˈchi-kən How to pronounce chicken (audio) \

Kids Definition of chicken

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a bird that is commonly raised by people for its eggs and meat : a hen or rooster
2 : the meat of a chicken used as food
3 : coward



Kids Definition of chicken (Entry 2 of 2)

: cowardly sense 1 He's too chicken to go on the rollercoaster.

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More from Merriam-Webster on chicken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chicken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chicken

Spanish Central: Translation of chicken

Nglish: Translation of chicken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chicken for Arabic Speakers

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