We Try To Put All the Poultry Clichés and Idioms in One Basket

Fowl Language

We Try To Put All the Poultry Clichés and Idioms in One Basket

Our backyard poultry have infiltrated many aspects of our lives. They have their own feed stores, their own medical complexes and even their own departments within many extension offices. They have also long been living inside our daily colloquialisms, and if you really listen closely, we can’t stop talking about our birds.

It started in elementary school for me. Our fifth grade teacher, who was all bark and no bite, opened a large can of worms when she asked, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Going around the circle my classmates responded, egg, chicken, egg, egg, chicken. I responded with a statement, rather than an answer: “I want a pet chicken!”

All my peers giggled and thought I was the cat’s pajamas.

I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag; obviously it was the chicken first. My statement surely didn’t make me the teacher’s pet, but I moved on up to the next grade level. Sixth grade was middle school and with a different building, I was no longer a big fish in a small pond. At home, I adopted three Call ducklings. I was busy as a beaver caring for them and they stayed healthy as a horse.

I cared for ducks, chickens and pigeons at my home from middle school all the way up to college. I loved them so much I become a vegetarian and started eating like a bird. High school moved at a snail’s pace, and then it was time to fly the coop.

Although birds of a feather flock together, my classmates were all headed in different directions.

Grabbing the bull by its horns, I attended University at Buffalo and treated the world as my oyster.

After college, little birds told me of job opportunities and I worked at two zoos and an aquarium. But I wanted to try my hand at teaching. As I teach, I pick up many poultry idioms. I hope you can use these idioms in your daily lives. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I hope you have a whale of a time reading.

CHICKEN AND EGG

BEING UP WITH THE CHICKENS
To get up particularly early, most likely prior to sunrise

CHICKEN-HEARTED
Cowardly

COCK SURE
To brag, arrogantly confident

DON’T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH
A warning to those who jump to positive conclusions

EGG ON YOUR FACE
Caught in a lie

EMPTY NEST SYNDROME
Feelings of loneliness when children move out

FOR CHICKEN FEED
For nearly nothing, cheap

HATCH AN IDEA
Create a plan

HAVE TO BREAK EGGS TO MAKE AN OMELET
Have to get messy to get something done

HEN CACKLE
To laugh, hoot

LIKE A CHICKEN WITH A PIP
In low spirits, in a weak or sickened manner

NEITHER CHICK NOR CHILD
Childless, without a child or pet

NEST EGG
To save money

NO SPRING CHICKEN
A person past their prime, an older person

ONE DAY CHICKEN AND THE NEXT DAY FEATHERS
The ebbs and flows of owning something valuable

RAISE YOUR HACKLE FEATHERS
To show your emotions outwardly

RULES OF THE ROOST
Household rules

SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT
Exciting news to tell

SUNNY-SIDE UP
Cheerful attitude

LIKE CHICKEN SCRATCH
Messy handwriting

ALL THE EGGS IN ONE BASKET
A single bet or investment that leaves nothing left

CHICKEN WITH ITS HEAD CUT OFF
Uncontrollable

COMING HOME TO ROOST
Getting what is due, as in karma

______________________________________________________________________________

TURKEY

COLD TURKEY
To quit abruptly

TALK TURKEY
To speak business

TO GOBBLE SOMETHING UP
To eat with enthusiasm

______________________________________________________________________________

DUCK

HAVE YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW
To be organized

LIKE A DUCK ON A JUNE BUG
All over something

LIKE WATER OFF A DUCK’S BACK
Easy, without an apparent effect

ODD DUCK
A rather unusual, strange, or peculiar person

SITTING DUCK
Someone or something vulnerable to attack

______________________________________________________________________________

GOOSE

A WILD GOOSE NEVER LAID A TAME EGG
Something will not be spontaneously different from where it came from

GOLDEN GOOSE
Something that has a lot of potential

GOOSE EGG
A raised bump on the skull, scored zero in a game

GOOSE FLESH, GOOSE PIMPLES
Goosebumps

SILLY GOOSE
Foolish

WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER
A belief in equality

WILD GOOSE CHASE
To send someone on a pointless search

______________________________________________________________________________

FOWL

NEITHER FISH, FLESH OR FOWL
Not belonging to any suitable class or description

RUN FOWL OF
To be in disagreement, trouble or difficulty

FOWL LANGUAGE
A terrible pun we used as a headline

Kenny Coogan, CPBT-KA, is a pet and garden columnist and has been fascinated with the English language for years. Some of his favorite words are crepuscular, cauliflory and coprophagy. He cares for 15 birds on his one acre homestead. Please search “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook to learn more.

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