Running Around Like a Chicken With its Head Cut Off

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Running around like a headless chicken
(acting like) a chicken with its head cut off

Meaning of Idiom 'Running Around Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off'

Someone who is running around like a chicken with its head cut off is rushing about and behaving in a panicked and irrational manner; someone acting in a frenzy without thinking about what he or she is doing; doing things in a hurry. 1,2

Usage Examples

"I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get ready for this party."

"Every time her mom comes to visit Melissa is like a chicken with its head cut off!"

Origin

The expression in its current form has been used since at least the early 1900's, alluding to how chickens sometimes run awkwardly and aimlessly about, and flop around violently after their heads or spines have been severed.

Sources
1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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