Chicken Out

Meaning Of Idiom ‘Chicken Out’

To chicken out means to refuse to do something because of fear or cowardice. 1Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008. ,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage

To chicken out usually has the connotation of refusing to do something, because of one’s fear, that one previously agreed to do, or tacitly agreed.

Examples Of Use

“We were both going to get tattoos last night but Mack chickened out.”

“It’s too late to chicken out of rock climbing now, we’re almost there.”

“Albert is always chickening out of everything. He agreed to help me play a prank on Bradley but then was afraid he’d get in trouble.”

Chicken out idiom meaning

Origin

Chicken has long been a used to mean cowardly or fearful. Its use was popular during the 1600s only to die out and re-emerge during the 1900s. To chicken out arose as slang around 1930. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2, 3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.