Chickens are the root of the English language


13 Years
Aug 2, 2009
Southwestern Washington State
I've been doing a little research in the last few months regarding parts of speech derived from chicken keeping that are basic parts of the english language. I've put together a list you might enjoy:

Beginning with just the word might "be" chicken, "play" chicken, "chicken out" or if you are a young girl, you can be a "chick." You might have "chicken skin", be a bird brain, a dumb cluck, or no spring chicken. Or chicken livered, chicken hearted or mad as a wet hen. I hope you can read this writing which is like chicken scratch. Something as cheap as chicken feed or chicken scratch is not expensive and people can be made to "come up to scratch."

We can start with the obvious coop ones, regarding someone who "flew the coop" or something that was "all cooped up." Someone might "rule the roost" and everyone knows that chickens "come home to roost." My favorite but less ancient idiom was "Ain't nobody here but us chickens."

Hens created alot of language. They walk on eggshells or walk on eggs, have nest eggs for which they have feathered their nest, count chickens before they are hatched and take them under their wing. Then there are hen parties, hen pecking, and put up a squack or ruffle their feathers. Hopefully none will have a bad egg, or they could be madder than a wet hen. And one not necessarily strictly chicken related, "Birds of a feather flock together."

Roosters share their group of idioms, They shake a tail feather, strut their stuff and have something to crow about. They are cock sure, cock eyed and they stick their neck out and get things stuck in their craw. Boxers are known to strut around like a banty rooster. But you have to be up before the cock crows to scratch out a living.

There were some old phrases too, such as "scarce as a hen's teeth" that I found but never heard, also "If it ain't chicken, it's feathers." I do recall a politician promising a "chicken in every pot." but not sure who that was.. Hoover?

Most macabre are the phrases "running around like a chicken with its head cut off." and makes me wonder about that "stick your neck out." one....

Better end this now as I go to bed with the chickens because I get up with the chickens.

Hope you like my list. Not everything is what it is cracked up to be. Maybe y'all have some idioms to add.....


10 Years
Aug 26, 2009
Oakland, CA
it just shows how we all need chickens!

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