chicken

1 of 3

noun

chick·​en ˈchi-kᵊn How to pronounce chicken (audio)
 sometimes  -kᵊŋ
plural chickens
1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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 gay boy or man

chicken

2 of 3

adjective

1
a
: scared
2
slang
a
: insistent on petty details of duty or discipline

chicken

3 of 3

verb

chickened; chickening ˈchi-kᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce chicken (audio)
ˈchik-niŋ

intransitive verb

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

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
There are also tenderloin, chicken, snapper and sirloin platters. Phillip Valys, Sun Sentinel, 26 Jan. 2023 The toppings, including steak, chicken, beans, rice, salsa and cheese, were plentiful, as was the seating. Megan Dubois, Chron, 26 Jan. 2023 Meal options include a selection of chicken, beef, or vegetarian sandwiches that came with an assortment of fruits and chips. Kayla Brock, Condé Nast Traveler, 25 Jan. 2023 The banquet included Indian Papadum bread with mango, Malabar prawns, Malay chicken, Bengali fish curry, lamb marsala, and custard, saffron kulfi, and juniper berries. Margie Goldsmith, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 Vegetable oil is essential for frying chicken, sautéing, baking quick breads, and so many other dishes. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 23 Jan. 2023 Butter chicken, mattar paneer, Amritsari chole and laziz soya chaap curry are among the dishes offered along with a variety of appetizers and desserts. Cheryl V. Jackson, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Jan. 2023 The holiday meal might consist of chicken, two fishes and pork, with tang yuan and fa gao for dessert – or perhaps dim sum with family on the weekend of the new year. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 19 Jan. 2023 In every town, there is a restaurant whose specialty is burgers, chicken, pizza, tacos, sandwiches. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 17 Jan. 2023
Adjective
The spicy-chicken sandwich is also a fairly recent edition, a veteran of the Chicken Sandwich Wars. Vulture, 24 June 2022 Chicken of the wood (or COW) is named after its shockingly chicken breast-like texture. Tree Meinch, Discover Magazine, 23 July 2020 But the pro-chicken side says the fowl make less noise than crying children and barking dogs. Sasha Hupka, The Arizona Republic, 30 Nov. 2022 Though food prices climbed just 1.1% overall from April to May, several products rose sharply: Eggs rose 5%, raw non-chicken poultry rose 4.4% and cookies rose 4%. Derek Saul, Forbes, 10 June 2022 And then the Congress and the Postal Administration were just too chicken to do it. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 17 Aug. 2020 Maria cut chicken thighs shoulder to shoulder with co-workers who coughed and ran fevers. USA Today, 22 May 2020 Popcorn and chicken wing stands were open, though fewer than on a normal day. Bloomberg.com, 10 May 2020 And thus, our long, arduous, chicken parm journey began. Molly Baz, Bon Appétit, 1 May 2020
Verb
When adding onions to chicken noodle soup, for example, add them toward the end to maintain as many nutrients as possible. Jennifer Walter, Discover Magazine, 19 Jan. 2022 Brown chicken a little on both sides, just enough to give thighs some color. Rita Nader Heikenfeld, The Enquirer, 11 Nov. 2022 The first three ingredients are chicken, turkey liver, and ground bone. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 23 Oct. 2022 Run by farmer Heather Sedlacek and chef Connor Dore, the ever-changing $85 tasting menu shows off the very best of Jersey’s largesse, from local artichokes to Cape May scallops and chicken, raised by Sedlacek herself at nearby Bayleaf Farm. Regan Stephens, Condé Nast Traveler, 13 June 2022 Nurzan brought homemade dishes of curry shrimp and chicken in a masala sauce to share with her hosts. Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 The East Bay’s restaurant openings had plenty of variety in October, with pan-African cooking, modern sushi hand rolls, New York-style bagels and Hong Kong chicken among the many flavors now closer to diners. Mario Cortez, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Nov. 2022 This branch is larger than the Newbury Street version, with a patio and more menu items, including chicken Milanese, veal scallopine, branzino, and cioppino, plus pastas and pizza. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, 2 June 2022 Sticker shock over basics from eggs to chicken to biscuits has ignited similar debate in other households. Veronica Dagher, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Adjective

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1943, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near chicken

Cite this Entry

“Chicken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chicken. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

chicken

1 of 3 noun
chick·​en ˈchik-ən How to pronounce chicken (audio)
1
: the common domestic fowl especially when young
also : its flesh used as food
2
: any of various birds or their young
3
: coward

chicken

2 of 3 adjective

chicken

3 of 3 verb
chickened; chickening ˈchik-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce chicken (audio)
: to lose one's courage
usually used with out

More from Merriam-Webster on chicken

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