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

Miralem Pjanić, Rodrigo Bentancur, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi and recent arrival Emre Can are all currently ahead of Marchisio in the Juventus pecking order., "Juventus Legend Claudio Marchisio Shoots Down Exit Rumours and is Hopeful of Staying With the Club," 27 June 2018 After sitting out last season, Giles has ascended to the top of pecking order for the Tigers, with the hope that his rapport with Ohio State graduate transfer Joe Burrow adds a slice of explosiveness to LSU’s often predictable offense. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "College football's best wide receivers for 2018," 10 July 2018 The three-star recruit who began his career in the Group of Five now occupies one of the top rungs on college football’s pecking order. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Unique path has North Carolina State QB Ryan Finley ready for what comes next," 22 June 2018 Despite his excellent form at Fulham, Mitrović is unlikely to be first choice forward under Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez, Dwight Gale and Joselu ahead of the Serbian in the Magpies pecking order., "Crystal Palace Keeping Tabs on Newcastle World Cup Star as Eagles Explore Striking Options," 30 May 2018 The 25-year-old currently trails Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm in Spurs' goalkeeping pecking order, having made just one Premier League appearance for the club since joining from Southampton last summer., "Mauricio Pochettino Lavishes Praise on Argentine Star Despite Lack of First Team Appearances," 2 May 2018 Mariappa started his campaign as far down the centre back pecking order as possible., "Why Unsung Hero Mariappa Deserves to Win Watford Player of the Season Award," 7 May 2018 Once the envy of the oil industry, the Gulf of Mexico has become a lower priority in the energy pecking order. Collin Eaton, Houston Chronicle, "Private companies investing in Gulf as Wall Street turns its back," 3 May 2018 After being drafted by the Bills, fans debated the quarterback pecking order in Buffalo with former Cincinnati quarterback AJ McCarron in a way only fans can. Mark Heim,, "Josh Allen's tweets about AJ McCarron's 'old lady' put into context," 27 Apr. 2018

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




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Time Traveler for pecking order

The first known use of pecking order was in 1927

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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 \
variants: also peck order \ˈpek-​ˌ \

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


a knickknack or trinket

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