pecking order

variants: or less commonly peck order

Definition of pecking 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 Dobbins’ injury created a massive opportunity for him, but Williams had already seemingly moved ahead of Hill in the pecking order. Jonas Shaffer,, 2 Sep. 2021 Rush is also the one with more experience in offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s system and overtook Gilbert in the pecking order late in training camp. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2021 Scott McTominay is ahead of the aforementioned duo in the pecking order, but his injury is set to rule him out for another four weeks minimum. Liam Canning, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 Nicole Kidman may not perceive herself as part of that pecking order. Chandran Nair, Time, 27 Aug. 2021 Reliever Michael Lorenzen, who left Saturday’s game with a right hamstring injury, was expected to provide another right-handed pitcher at the top of the pecking order in high-leverage situations. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, 19 July 2021 This person has earned a demotion in your friendship pecking order. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 3 Apr. 2021 Age, injury and the retirement of Travis Frederick has knocked this group down the pecking order. David Moore, Dallas News, 27 July 2021 In the case of many schools, Texas and Oklahoma will knock them down a notch or two in the pecking order. Edgar Thompson,, 30 July 2021

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.

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First Known Use of pecking order

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of pecking order was in 1927

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pecking order.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for pecking order

pecking order


English Language Learners Definition of pecking order

: the way in which people or things in a group or organization are placed in a series of levels with different importance or status

pecking order

peck·​ing order | \ ˈpek-iŋ-ˌ How to pronounce pecking order (audio) \
variants: also peck order \ ˈpek-​ˌ How to pronounce pecking order (audio) \

Medical Definition of pecking 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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