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 or youthful gay man
also : a boy or young man regarded as an object of sexual interest especially by a man compare chicken hawk sense 3

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Last month, San Francisco Public Health Department officials reported that state investigators had detected H5N1 — the avian flu subtype making its way through U.S. cattle, domestic poultry and wild birds — in two chickens at a live market in May. Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, 4 July 2024 Shoving a beer can up a chicken’s rear end is a summertime rite of passage for serious grillers. The Editors, Field & Stream, 4 July 2024 For instance, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and ground beef should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Katia Hetter, CNN, 4 July 2024 That’s up 5% from 2023, and almost 30% from five years ago, for a spread of cheeseburgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. John Tufts, The Courier-Journal, 3 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for chicken 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chicken.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 13 Jul. 2024.

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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