A hen is a female chicken. It's important to make sure your new backyard chickens are hens and not roosters — otherwise, those eggs you're looking forward to just aren't going to happen.

You can use the word hen for the female of many birds, including turkeys, pheasants, and quail, as well as for a female lobster. In parts of Britain, a hen can also be a (slightly offensive) slang term for a woman, and if something's described as being "rare as hen's teeth," it's extremely precious or scarce.

Definitions of hen
  1. noun
    adult female chicken
    synonyms: biddy
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    a hen that has just laid an egg and emits a shrill squawk
    brood hen, broody, broody hen, setting hen, sitter
    a domestic hen ready to brood
    mother hen
    a hen with chicks
    a hen that lays eggs
    young hen usually less than a year old
    type of:
    Gallus gallus, chicken
    a domestic fowl bred for flesh or eggs; believed to have been developed from the red jungle fowl
  2. noun
    adult female bird
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    type of:
    warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrates characterized by feathers and forelimbs modified as wings
  3. noun
    female of certain aquatic animals e.g. octopus or lobster
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    type of:
    an animal that produces gametes (ova) that can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa)
  4. noun
    flesh of an older chicken suitable for stewing
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    type of:
    chicken, poulet, volaille
    the flesh of a chicken used for food
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘hen'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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