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 At receiver, the pecking order is unclear after Adam Thielen, Olabisi Johnson and first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson. Andrew Krammer, Star Tribune, "Cutdown is Vikings' moment of truth for evaluation methods," 4 Sep. 2020 Memorial will have the opportunity to say something about the district’s final pecking order since the Mavs play both Deer Park and Dobie over the final three weeks of district and after the Dobie-Deer Park showdown. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Dobie predicted to take 22-6A football crown by magazine," 4 Sep. 2020 The meaning and gravity of class identity varies profoundly according to your place in the racial pecking order. G'ra Asim, The New Republic, "The NBA Strike and the Limits of the Left’s Class-Centric Politics," 29 Aug. 2020 That was the lowest rate among the most populous states -- a far cry from Texas’ usual spot at the top of the pecking order. Dallas News, "Recovery interrupted: Texas lost over 12,000 private jobs in July," 21 Aug. 2020 He’s seemingly behind Noah Igbinoghene and Jamal Perry in the pecking order of cornerbacks vying for prominent roles. Omar Kelly,, "Dolphins training camp Day 3: Stock up, stock down and three stars," 19 Aug. 2020 The team also observed the frogs during their courtship, which involved groups of one male and two or occasionally three females, one of which seemed to be at the top of the pecking order. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Longterm polyamory seems to work just fine for these frogs," 18 Aug. 2020 Ramblers caoch Jim Kurotsuchi envisions talented sophomore Bailey Bitbabo, who tied for 24th in the state, assuming top billing in the team’s pecking order. Steve Reaven,, "Lake Forest boys and Stevenson girls understand the concept of ‘high expectations’ in staging defense of golf state championships," 14 Aug. 2020 Ridley already is closer to Jones in one respect for the start of the 2020 season – the pecking order among the Falcons’ wideouts. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Calvin Ridley has blueprint for success on Atlanta Falcons," 6 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for pecking order

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The first known use of pecking order was in 1927

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Statistics for pecking order

Last Updated

13 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pecking order.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2020.

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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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