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Chicken portrait.jpg


From Middle English chicken, from Old English ċicen, cycen (chicken), diminutive of coc, cocc (cock, rooster), or from Proto-Germanic *kiukīną (chicken). Cognate with North Frisian schückling (chicken), Saterland Frisian Sjuuken (chicken), 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. Compare 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 chicken (i.e., 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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