chicken countingIf you’re like most people, you run across a handful of sayings each and every day. “A stitch in time saves nine.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” You know, that sort of thing. But it’s somewhat interesting to note that chickens pop up quite a bit in popular idioms. Here are just a few instances.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’ve Hatched:

Mothers love to dispense wisdom, and if there’s one bit of advice they love to give, it’s “don’t be stupid,” or more specifically, “Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Counting your chickens before they’ve hatched simply means it’s unwise to assume something before knowing the facts, similar to “It’s too good to be true.” Planning on a handful of chickens from a single clutch isn’t a perfect science as some chicks won’t hatch while others won’t make it to full adulthood. Therefore, don’t plan on the size of your flock until you can accurately count them.

Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off:

Something about random flailing generally brings this one out, though I’d argue that your actions and the typical response from a beheaded chicken are completely different. Basically, acting like a chicken with its head cut off implies that you’re making very little sense to the point of hysterics, usually with a lot of spastic body movements. However, it should be noted that some chickens have been reported as living quite a long time after having their heads cut off. Then again it’s most common for a headless chicken to just simply die, sadly.

That’s a Cock and Bull Story:

Why exactly a cock and a bull can’t be trusted is a bit odd, but the gist is that a cock and bull story is something completely full of lies. Some believe the origin of the saying comes from a pair of prominent inns that meet on the same street, but that, sadly, is also a cock and bull story.

He’s Pretty Cock-Sure:

Roosters are very passionate animals, typically showing no fear even in the face of something they very much should. When someone is cock-sure, it means that they will not back down in the face of anything, or that they’re just plain stubborn. Either way, there are worse things than being cock-sure, such as…

Stop Being a Chicken:

I’d much rather be cock-sure about a cock and bull story than to be a chicken. “To be a chicken” is to be afraid of something, usually something that you shouldn’t be afraid of like trying a new delicacy or raising chickens of your very own. Why exactly chickens have been associated with fear, particularly when the male of the species has already demonstrated that they’re synonymous with bravery and strong-headedness, it yet another mystery.

Chickens have permeated our language and taken hold of quite a few of our sayings, but this fascination with the silly birds doesn’t really make much sense, does it? Either way, it’s pretty clear that chickens will be staying with us for a very long time indeed.

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