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Chicken portrait.jpg


From Middle English, from Old English ċicen, cycen (chicken), diminutive of coc, cocc (cock, rooster), or from Proto-Germanic *kiukīną. Cognate with Dutch kuiken (chick, chicken), Low German küken (chicken), German Küken (chick), German dialectal Küchlein (chicken) and Old Norse kjúklingr (chicken). More at cock, -en.



chicken (countable and uncountable, plural chickens)

  1. (countable) A domestic fowl, Gallus gallus, especially when young
  2. (uncountable) The meat from this bird eaten as food.
  3. (countable, slang) A coward.
  4. (countable, gay slang) A young, attractive, slim man, usually having little body hair. Cf. chickenhawk
  5. (countable, slang) A young or inexperienced person.
    • 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, III:
      "This case will make a stir, sir," he remarked. "It beats anything I have seen, and I am no chicken."
    • Jonathan Swift
      Stella is no chicken.
  6. A confrontational game in which the participants move toward each other at high speed (usually in automobiles); the player who turns first to avoid colliding into the other is the loser.
    Don't play chicken with a freight train; you're guaranteed to lose.
  7. The game of dare.


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chicken (comparative more chicken, superlative most chicken)

  1. cowardly


chicken (third-person singular simple present chickens, present participle chickening, simple past and past participle chickened)

  1. (intransitive) To avoid as a result of fear.
  2. (intransitive) To develop physical or other characteristics resembling a chicken's, for example, bumps on the skin.

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Last modified on 9 April 2014, at 10:49