pecking order

noun

variants or less commonly peck order
1
: the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank
broadly : a dominance hierarchy in a group of social animals
2
: a social hierarchy

Examples of pecking order in a Sentence

As an assistant manager, he was pretty low in the company's pecking order. the pecking order of Washington politics
Recent Examples on the Web The race also confirmed the pecking order of this young F1 season, with Mercedes and Aston Martin rounding out the clear top five of Formula 1 teams and the bottom five consisting of RB, Haas, Alpine, Williams, and Kick Sauber, all but identical to last year. Erik Shilling, Robb Report, 7 May 2024 Regardless of the pecking order of roster problems, wide receiver is still a notable area of need. Mike Kaye, Charlotte Observer, 9 Apr. 2024 Who knows where Jabari Smith Jr. stands in the pecking order of Houston’s rebuild? Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 22 Mar. 2024 Yet Fritz’s pecking order is far more than merely professional. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 20 Dec. 2023 Of all the components in the team’s late-season pitching plans, however, few are bigger than Bobby Miller — the 24-year-old phenom who could emerge as an X factor down the stretch or fade down the pecking order if rookie struggles mount. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 10 Aug. 2023 With the Republican National Convention about 130 days away, two of the lead organizers for the international-scale event took the stage at Marquette University Law School Thursday to talk about everything from protest preparations to the pecking order for delegates' hotel assignments. Alison Dirr, Journal Sentinel, 7 Mar. 2024 After a recent strong stretch of play, has Michael Porter Jr. become No. 3 in the pecking order for Denver? Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, 18 Jan. 2024 The draw of a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in front of a Southern California fan base may have aided USC’s climb up the pecking order for the Holiday Bowl, but Williams could be a prime candidate to opt out of the postseason game. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 3 Dec. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pecking order was in 1927

Dictionary Entries Near pecking order

Cite this Entry

“Pecking order.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pecking%20order. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

pecking order

noun
variants also peck order
1
: a basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without being pecked in return and allows pecking by one of higher rank
2
: a social order with ranks or classes

Medical Definition

pecking order

noun
peck·​ing order ˈpek-iŋ-ˌ How to pronounce pecking order (audio)
variants also peck order
: the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank compare cannibalism sense 3, dominance sense a

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