Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chickenshit n.

[chicken n. (2a)/SE chicken + shit n. (1a); the cowardice of the person/the essential insignificance of the substance]
(orig. US)

1. something insignificant, worthless.

[US](con. 1915) ‘W.W. Windstaff’ ‘A Flier’s War’ in Longstreet Canvas Falcons (1970) 278: There were flying wings on his tunic and French and English chicken-shit of gold and silver and silver and bronze.
M. Kantor Andersonville 119: No more chicken shit, but fine sawney and stews.
[UK]C. Gaines Stay Hungry 154: I just mess with this chickenshit to keep my hand in.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 23: He’ll have made a score that makes your last one look like chickenshit.
[US]P. Cornwell Blow Fly (2004) 117: This has got nothing to do with those ladies disappearing. This is chicken shit. A cold case.

2. (also chickenstuff) a coward.

[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 100: You’re both acting like chicken-shits [...] What are you afraid of?
A. Maund Big Boxcar 141: When her wind came back she blasted me. ‘Why didn't you chase him, you little chickenshit?’.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 100: Harry noticed that he had gone and sneered and muttered, chickenshit. Afraid the boss might see him with me.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 141: You shot me in the back, you chickenshit!
[US](con. 1969–70) D. Bodey F.N.G. (1988) 318: Bostick here, the chickenshit, he started crying.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 160: Bubba, you gotta understand, is basically a chickenstuff.
[US]T. Willocks Green River Rising 133: So we not chickenshits. So [...] some of us die on our feet ’stead of on our knees.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] ‘Chicken shit’’ Duffo shouts.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 152: What kind of chickenshit quits off the football team cause of a broken nose, anyhow?
[US]K. Huff A Steady Rain I ii: No way you’re ever getting a puppy now, chicken shit!
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 86: ‘He’s going to lose his job for taking off from the scene.’ [...] ‘The chickenshit.’.

3. a contemptible, disgusting person.

[US]R. Abrahams Deep Down In The Jungle 130: I knowed right then that chickenshit was dead.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 143: Plenty more stuff even more revelatory to sequestered suburbanites (i.e. chickenshits).
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 154: If those cornball chickenshits had hung around for more than a morning, they might have seen something.

4. a disgusting, unacceptable action or situation.

[US] in T. Shibutani Derelicts of Company K (1978) 154: They make us put our wet geta in the barracks bags. God, what a lot of chicken shit!
[US](con. 1940s) G. Mandel Wax Boom 276: Mission accomplished, so wipe that chickenshit off, Lieutenant.
[US]B. Davidson Collura (1978) 108: I’m getting tired of the chicken shit.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 177: Chicken shit Anything unworthy, paltry or worthless. Once an American expression, now not uncommon because of hippy influence.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 75: Just a lot of pardon applications and other chickenshit.
[US]P. Cornwell Point of Origin (1999) 367: Petty, spiteful, chicken shit generated by an ignorant, little mind.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 258: A Hershey’s Kiss [...] Good for encouraging some catharsis. Chickenshit for the soul.
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 179: ‘Chickenshit,’ I mutter as he walks away.

5. (US milit., also chicken) meaningless, petty discipline.

[US] in T. Shibutani Derelicts of Company K (1978) 225: I try not to pass on any chicken shit to you, and I’ll back you to the limit as long as you play square.
[US]J.W. Bishop ‘Amer. Army Speech’ in AS XXI:4 Dec. 248: Chickenshit. This graphic description, used both as noun and adjective, signifies what is mean, petty and annoying, especially as applied to regulations. [...] If he puts the gripe in a letter to the B-Bag, or otherwise feels it advisable to watch his language, the word is contracted to chicken.
[US](con. 1940s) M. Dibner Admiral (1968) 259: Don’t pull that GI chickenshit on me.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 42: Now this Budka is notorious, worst accident record in the mine and pictures himself as a real nutcracker. Always on your back for chickenshit, while the important stuff goes right past him.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 27: What a relief war is. All the chicken shit is over.