Idiom – Chicken

English Idiom – Chicken.

Meaning – A coward. A chicken is used to refer to a person who is nervous, timid or afraid. If you call someone a chicken you are mocking them for being afraid, or trying to provoke them into being brave.

To chicken out of something is to find a way to avoid doing something because you are afraid. In this situation we could also say that someone has cold feet (idiom).

Other expressions for a coward or timid person are:

Chickens in the English language:

There are lots of popular expressions that feature chickens. Here are some common ones:

  • A chicken and egg situation (idiom) – From the question Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A situation in which it is impossible to know which of two things existed or happened first.
  • Chickens come home to roost (idiom) – You must face the consequences of your past mistakes or bad deeds.
  • Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched (proverb) – Don’t rely on something happening until it has actually happened.
  • For chicken feed (idiom) – For very little money. If you work for chicken feed you work for almost nothing.
  • Like a headless chicken (idiom) – To act frantically or without control.
  • No spring chicken (idiom) – An old person. This idiom is used to refer to a person who no longer young.


When could you use this idiom?

  • If a person is too scared to visit the dentist or doctor.
  • When you think a person is afraid of doing something fairly harmless.
  • You are trying to encourage a frightened friend to take part in some activity.
  • If somebody is not brave enough to do something new and exciting.


  • “We’ve come all this way to do a bungee jump. Stop being such a chicken and get ready to jump!”

In The News:

Chicken Theresa May ducks out of Woman’s Hour interview…


  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

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