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

Lynch opened the 2018 season stuck behind Wilton Speight, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Austin Burton in the quarterback pecking order. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "Matt Lynch finds new possibilities with new position at UCLA," 9 Aug. 2019 Here are some more offensive observations from Friday’s practice. * Time to update the offensive line pecking order. Dan Labbe,, "Browns training camp offensive report: Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi makes plays as battle for last receiver spots heats up," 26 July 2019 Beane would not say where Allen fell in the quarterback pecking order. Peter King,, "2018 NFL Draft: Two Trades, Two Joshes, Two Very Happy Teams in Buffalo and Arizona," 27 Apr. 2018 Farmer pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts and continues to work his way up the Tigers’ bullpen pecking order. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers continue bad baseball, slammed 10-2 by Mariners," 26 July 2019 Kawhi Leonard’s decision to sign with the Clippers – and their subsequent trade for Oklahoma City’s star forward Paul George – tilted the NBA’s pecking order toward Los Angeles. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Clippers’ seismic Kawhi Leonard move shakes NBA, but Nuggets believe in their foundation," 6 July 2019 No, according to Romeo and his agent, who have decided not to visit with teams that low in the draft pecking order. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Why the Pacers could — and should — draft Romeo Langford," 18 June 2019 Where do the Nuggets stand in the Western Conference pecking order, especially in light of Kevin Durant’s catastrophic Achilles injury? Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "Nuggets Ink podcast: Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr. and other pressing offseason questions," 16 June 2019 The blockbuster Anthony Davis trade the NBA has been waiting for is finally here and the Western Conference pecking order has shifted., "Anthony Davis traded to Los Angeles Lakers, per ESPN report," 15 June 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near pecking order

peckerwood mill

peck horn


pecking order




Statistics for pecking order

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for pecking order

The first known use of pecking order was in 1927

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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 peck 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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Comments on pecking order

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to make a temporary encampment

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