Talking Chicken


Not so many years ago, it was very common for people to keep chickens in their yards. Most people had them.  My grandparents did, and since I got chickens, my Dad loves to tell me chicken stories from his youth. I think most homes back then had chickens, and all of the men and women knew how to raise and feed them, gather the eggs, slaughter and clean the fowl.  During the World Wars, there was propaganda encouraging people to tend chickens for the war efforts.




Today we have to do research to find out how to care for chickens, but back then it was learned naturally, passed on from mother to daughter and father to son. It's no wonder there are so many phrases in our language that have to do with chickens or eggs.  These phrases were commonly used and understood by everyone because they were shared lessons learned at home. This list is not exhaustive, but just off the top of my head, look at all the chicken/egg phrases we have used for generations. You can apply the meanings, because I'm sure you know them:

Hen party
Nest egg
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Chicken feed
Feather your nest
Mother hen
Laid an egg
Hen pecked
Flew the coop
Rise with the chickens
Go to bed with the chickens
Walking on eggshells
Running around like a chicken with its head cut off
Shake a tail feather
Strut like a rooster
Dumb cluck
You’re chicken
Sunny side up
Hard boiled
Ruffled feathers
Chicken hearted
Come home to roost
Rule the roost
No spring chicken
Egg on your face
Pecking order
Cock of the walk
Play chicken
Something to crow about
Don’t brood over it
Chicken scratch
Stick your neck out
Bad egg
Good egg
Cock and bull story
Empty nest
Made from scratch
Flocks of a feather stay together

We still use and understand these phrases today.  The art of raising chickens may have decreased over the years (thank goodness, it's coming back), but the vocabulary hasn't.  I call it Chicken Talk, and we all use it.  I played around with putting these phrases into artwork that I could frame and display in my home.  You're welcome to download and print it for yourself.  I shared a plain copy and one that has a computerized frame around it.  I made it from scratch and think it's something to crow about, but if you think I laid an egg, don't brood over it.





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