- (intr, adverb) informal to fail to do something through fear or lack of conviction
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
- Animal Husbandry, Birds a domesticated bird developed in a number of breeds for its flesh, eggs, and feathers:[countable]A hen is a female chicken.
- Food[uncountable] the flesh of the chicken used as food.
- Slang Terms Slang. a cowardly or fearful person:[countable]Come on, don't be such a chicken.
- [uncountable] a contest that may result in very serious, sometimes fatal consequences if one of the participants makes an error or does not yield.
adj. [be + ~]
- Informal. cowardly;
frightened:He won't do it; he's chicken.
- chicken out,[no object] to withdraw from or back out of a promise, esp. because of fear.
- Animal Husbandrya domestic fowl, Gallus domesticus, descended from various jungle fowl of southeastern Asia and developed in a number of breeds for its flesh, eggs, and feathers.
- Animal Husbandrythe young of this bird, esp. when less than a year old.
- Foodthe flesh of the chicken, esp. of the young bird, used as food.
- Informal Termsa young or inexperienced person, esp. a young girl.
- Slang Terms
- a cowardly or fearful person.
- petty details or tasks.
- unnecessary discipline or regulations.
- a young male homosexual, esp. one sought as a sexual partner by older men.
- a contest in which two cars approach each other at high speed down the center of a road, the object being to force one's opponent to veer away first.
- a policy or strategy of challenging an opponent to risk a clash or yield:diplomats playing chicken at the conference table.
- Idiomscount one's chickens before they are hatched, to rely on a benefit that is still uncertain:They were already spending in anticipation of their inheritance, counting their chickens before they were hatched.
- Food(of food) containing, made from, or having the flavor of chicken:chicken salad; chicken soup.
- Slang Terms
- petty or trivial:a chicken regulation.
- obsessed with petty details, regulations, etc.:He's quitting this chicken outfit to become his own boss.
- chicken out, [Slang.]
- to refrain from doing something because of fear or cowardice:I chickened out when I saw how deep the water was.
- to renege or withdraw:You can't chicken out of this business deal now.
- bef. 950; 1605–15 for def. 5a; 1940–45 for def. 7; Middle English chiken, Old English cīcen; akin to Middle Dutch kieken (Dutch kuiken), Low German küken