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

Example Sentences

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 Kuminga was on the back end of Steve Kerr’s 10-man rotation against Los Angeles and Denver before being replaced in the pecking order by Moses Moody against the Kings. C.j. Holmes, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Oct. 2022 Bowl pecking order: The Mountain West champion goes to the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, as long as that team is not invited to a New Years 6 game. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Nov. 2022 His longtime producer is also early in the pecking order. Mark Gray, Peoplemag, 7 Nov. 2022 The alignment and pecking order of a Dodgers bullpen that entered the playoffs without a set closer seemed to take shape in Game 1. Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2022 Following that career-high ranking of No. 9 in Jan. 2018, Vandeweghe began to slip dramatically down the pecking order when a foot/ankle injury cropped up out of nowhere at Wimbledon that summer. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 14 Aug. 2022 The knee-jerk reaction is that Apple Pay Later will drop Affirm down the pecking order and reduce their revenue potential by eating up market share. Q.ai - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 8 June 2022 Jacksonville has somewhat quietly moved away from Kirk, with both Marvin Jones and Zay Jones moving ahead of him in the pecking order the last two weeks. Tony Holm, USA TODAY, 10 Oct. 2022 Anderson was behind the erratic May in the front office’s pecking order, which explains why Roberts waited until May was injured to say anything about Anderson starting when the games really counted. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 25 Sep. 2022 See More

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

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on pecking order

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