\ˈhen \

Definition of hen 

1a : a female chicken especially over a year old broadly : a female bird

b : the female of various mostly aquatic animals (such as lobsters or fish)

2 : woman especially : a fussy middle-aged woman

Examples of hen in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Egg-laying hens would be required to have at least 144 square inches of usable floor space by the end of 2019 and be cage-free with accommodations like scratching posts and perches by the end of 2021. Melody Gutierrez, SFChronicle.com, "Gas taxes, cage-free chickens and a chopped-up California top fall ballot," 3 July 2018 Producers are hoping that cold storage of whole hens, which is actually up 16% from last year, will cover the gap come Thanksgiving and Christmas. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Thanksgiving Might Be Ruined Thanks to Bird Flu," 5 May 2015 Only hens can be raised, and the birds cannot be slaughtered for meat, according to the ordinance. Martin E. Comas, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Seminole makes backyard chicken program permanent," 12 June 2018 Dozens of rodents, some alive and some dead, were found inside Rose Acre Farms' hen houses in its North Carolina facility. Kristine Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Egg farm responsible for salmonella outbreak had 'unacceptable rodent activity,' FDA report says," 16 May 2018 The yokes are a darker yellow than a typical grocery store egg, Tristan explains, because the hens are pasture-raised and forage for their own bugs and grass rather than being placed on a restricted diet. Allison Bagley, Houston Chronicle, "Young entrepreneurs grow business acumen at farmers’ markets," 13 June 2018 The fondue is a must-order item, along with the fried hen of the woods mushrooms ($11) accompanied by a modern version of onion dip. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Lazy Bear team ventures into unknown territory with True Laurel," 16 Feb. 2018 Susan Trask appeared with her two daughters at at a recent Crown Point City Council meeting and presented a petition with 280 signatures asking that residents be allowed to own up to four hens on lots less than five acres. Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune, "Crown Point woman asks city council to consider letting her keep chickens 'for food, educational purposes'," 13 July 2018 Although there has been a long-standing debate about Wisconsin's tradition of limiting hunters to one hen mallard in the daily bag limit, the recent survey data supports this conservative measure. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: As habitat dwindles, duck numbers deserve a close watch," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hen.' 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 hen

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

History and Etymology for hen

Middle English, from Old English henn; akin to Old English hana rooster — more at chant

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Dictionary Entries near hen







hen and chickens

Phrases Related to hen

hen night

Statistics for hen

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hen

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

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More Definitions for hen



English Language Learners Definition of hen

: an adult female chicken

: a female bird of any kind


\ˈhen \

Kids Definition of hen

1 : a female domestic fowl

2 : a female bird

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Comments on hen

What made you want to look up hen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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