Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chicken n.

[fig. uses of SE chicken]

1. as a woman.

(a) [late 16C; 18C+] a young woman, esp. [late 18C–mid-19C] a prostitute; thus chicken-chaser, chicken-hustler, a womanizer; also attrib.

(b) [20C+] (US) young women considered collectively; thus sexual intercourse with one.

(c) [1980s] (US black) an unattractive (old) woman [on the bad = good model, the direct reverse of the white terms].

(d) [1980s] (US black) an aggressive woman [on the bad = good model].

2. the stereotype of the chicken as a cowardly creature.

(a) [early 17C+] a timid creature, a coward.

(b) [late 18C+] (also chicking) a weak or naïve person.

(c) [1930s+] (US black) a sheepish, foolish grin.

(d) [1950s–60s] (US) cowardice.

(e) [1950s+] (orig. US teen) a contest of nerve in which two cars drive towards either each other or an obstacle, cliff edge etc – the loser being the driver who turns aside first; thus any form of foolish dare-devilry; also ext. to fig. use.

3. in the context of size.

(a) [mid-17C+] used as a direct address to a child or young woman.

(b) [early 18C–1950s] a young man, often as a direct address; as this chicken, self-referential.

(c) [mid-19C] a pint pot, the smaller container of the hen and chickens under hen n.

4. as an image of sexual vulnerability and/or youth [note 19C US milit. jargon chicken, a close friend or young ‘buddy’].

(a) [early 19C+] an underage girl, in a sexual context.

(b) [mid-19C] anything young, small or insignificant.

(c) [mid-19C] a novice, esp. a young boxer.

(d) [late 19C+] (gay) an underage boy, or such boys considered collectively.

(e) attrib. use of sense 4d.

(f) [1940s–60s] (US Und.) a kidnap victim.

(g) [1960s+] a child who is used for paedophiliac sexual exploitation.

(h) [1960s+] a young lesbian.

(i) [2000s] a young heterosexual male prostitute, servicing only women.

5. [mid-19C] (US) a thing, a phenomenon.

6. [1900s–40s] (US) bacon, sausages.

7. [1950s] a person, no cowardice is implied.

8. [2010s] (US drugs) a kilo of (crack) cocaine [play on bird n.7 (1)].

9. see chickenshit n. (5)

Sexual contexts

In compounds

chicken-butcher (n.)

see separate entry.

chicken-chaser (n.)

1. [1910s-20s] (US) a womanizer; thus chicken-chasing.

2. an older woman who purses young men as lovers.

chicken-chasing (adj.)

[1970s+] (US) used of one who pursues underage boys; thus chicken-chaser.

chicken dinner (n.)

1. [1940s] (US black) an attractive young woman.

2. [1970s–80s] (US gay) a young or underage boy, in the context of his being the subject of fellatio; thus have a chicken dinner, to fellate an underage boy.

chicken eyes (n.)

[1940s] a womanizer.

chicken fancier (n.) (US)

1. [1910s] a womanizer.

2. [1910s] (US) one who pursues girls under the age of consent.

3. [1960s] (also chicken-freak) a male homosexual paedophile.

chicken-hawk (n.)

see separate entry.

chicken inspector (n.)

[1920s+] (US) a womanizer, a lady-killer.

chicken man (n.)

1. [19C] a paedophile.

2. [1980s+] (Aus. prison) one who has been jailed for bestiality.

chicken-pox (n.) [pun on SE; there is no apparent link to the pox n.1 (1)]

[1960s+] (US gay) the urge to have sex with underage boys.

chicken queen (n.) [-queen sfx (2)]

[1960s+] (US gay) an older homosexual man who prefers sex with teenage boys.

chicken ranch (n.) (also chicken-house) [the original mid-19C Chicken Ranch was at Gilbert, Texas. One ety. suggests that the clients, mainly local farmers, paid for their pleasures with chickens, but more likely is a use of sense 3a above]

[1960s+] a brothel.

chicken rustler (n.)

[1970s] (US gay) a male homosexual who has been placed in charge of underage boys, e.g. a scoutmaster or choirmaster.

In phrases

chicken of the sea (n.) [play on brandname of canned tuna]

[1970s+] (US gay) a young sailor.

Pertaining to cowardice or weakness

In compounds

chicken fight (n.)

[1930s] (US) a contest of nerves.

chicken gizzard (n.)

[mid-19C] (US) a coward.

chicken-gutted (adj.) (also chickengut)

[1950s+] (US) cowardly.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

In phrases

play chicken (v.) [1950s+]

1. to challenge another person by attempting to see who ‘cracks’ first in a given situation.

2. to indulge in dangerous games, usu. to drive two cars straight at each other or in parallel towards a hazard (e.g. clifftop) and see who backs down first.

3. [1970s+] (US black) to intrude on another (man’s) sexual advances [fig. use of sense 1, i.e. the intruder ‘dares’ his rival].

Other uses

In compounds

chicken coop (n.) (US)

1. [1900s–10s] any small place.

2. [1940s] (US Und.) a women’s prison.

3. [1960s] a police car or patrol wagon.

4. [1970s] an outside lavatory.

5. [1970s+] (US gay) any place filled with attractive young men, e.g. a basketball game.

In phrases

no chicken (also no spring chicken, not any chicken)

1. [early 18C+] a phr. describing someone, often a woman, who is no longer young (or attractive).

2. [late 19C] (Aus.) being of substantial size.

that’s the chicken

[1910s] (Aus.) a general term of approbation.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

chickenbone special (n.) [the bags of homemade fried chicken taken by Southern blacks on railroad trips; segregation kept them from using the whites-only dining cars]

[1950s] (US black) anything second-rate, inferior, cheap and unattractive.


see separate entries.

chicken-breasted (adj.)

[late 18C–early 19C] of a woman, having very small breasts.

chicken-butcher (n.)

see separate entry.

chicken butt (n.) [butt n.1 (1a); its innate insignificance]

[1960s] (US black) nothing, no matter, forget it; used in response to the query what’s up?

chicken cock (n.) [regional AmE chicken cock, a cockerel, but note cite 1908]

[1920s–30s] (US black) bootleg bourbon.

chicken-eater (n.) [members of the congregation would give the preacher roast chicken for his Sunday lunch] (US)

1. [mid-19C+] a preacher, esp. an unprofessional, part-time lay preacher; thus chicken-eating adj.

2. [late 19C] a Methodist.

chickenfeed (n.)

see separate entry.

chicken fixings (n.) (also chicken fixins) [the trimmings that accompany a roast chicken]

[mid-19C–1910s] (US) trifles, small possessions.

chicken-fucker (n.)

[1950s+] (US) a general derog. term; often intensified as bald-headed chicken-fucker.

chicken-hammed (adj.) (also chicken-hamed)

[18C–early 19C] bandy-legged.

chicken hazard (n.)

[early 19C] a version of the dice gambling game hazard played for small stakes only, i.e. silver coins rather than gold.

chicken hockey (n.) [hockie n. (1)]

[1970s] (US) one’s fig. intestines, innards, i.e. the ‘stuffing’, the ‘daylights’; usu. in phr. kick/knock the chicken-hockey out of.

chicken-lifter (n.) [lift v. (1a)]

[mid-19C–1900s] (US) a chicken thief; thus any form of petty thief and by ext., a corrupt or incompetent individual.

chicken-lips (n.)

[2000s] (US black) a white person.

chicken money (n.) [var. on chickenfeed n.]

[19C] (US) spending money, small change.

chicken nabob (n.) [SE chicken, diminutive (‘borrowed from the chicken turtle’ notes Grose, 1796, who defines ‘moderate’ as £50,000–60,000) + nabob, one who has returned from India with great wealth, ult. f. Urdu nawab, deputy governor]

[late 18C–early 19C] a merchant who has returned from India with a moderate rather than a magnificent fortune.

chicken-neck (v.) [the similar action of the fowl]

[1990s+] (US) to move one’s head rapidly from side to side.

chicken-plucking (adj.)

see separate entry.

chicken-preacher (n.) (also chicken-season preacher) [abbr. chicken-eating preacher: see chicken-eater ]

[20C+] (US) an unprofessional, part-time lay preacher.

chicken scratch(ing)

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

chicken-spanking (n.)

[1950s] (US) sexual intercourse with a chicken.

chicken swoop (n.)

[1980s] (US Und.) the act of stealing a vulnerable person’s bag or purse.

chicken thief (n.)

1. [1910s–40s] (Aus., also chicken snatcher) a petty thief.

2. [1920s] a derog. form of address, sometimes used affectionately.

chicken tracks (n.)

[mid-19C+] (US) illegible handwriting; also attrib.

chicken walk (n.)

(UK prison) an exercise yard.

In phrases

gone chicken (n.) (also gone chick, gone chuck) [gone adj.1 (2) ]

[early 19C+] (US) a doomed person, a ‘lost soul’.

where the chicken got the axe

[late 19C-1910s] in the neck.