Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A female bird, especially the adult female of the domestic fowl.
  • n. The female of certain aquatic animals, such as an octopus or lobster.
  • n. Slang A woman, especially a fussy or nosy old woman.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. Hence.
  • v. To throw.
  • n. A female bird.
  • n. A female chicken, especially one kept for its eggs.
  • n. A woman.
  • n. The woman whose impending marriage is being celebrated at a hen night.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The female of the domestic fowl; also, the female of grouse, pheasants, or any kind of birds

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The female of the domestic fowl: opposed to cock.
  • n. Any female bird; especially, used attributively, equivalent to female: as, hen canary, hen sparrow, etc.
  • n. In a general sense, the common domestic or barn-yard fowl (Gallus domesticus), or any specimen of this fowl, in all its varieties and without regard to gender; a chicken. See Gallus.
  • n. A bivalve mollusk of the family Veneridæ and genus Tapes. At Hereford in England the name is given to two species, T. decussata, the purr, and T. aurea. See hen-clam.
  • Hence: the more original form.
  • To throw.
  • To back down in a cowardly way; funk out: as, he henned at the last minute.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. adult female chicken
  • n. adult female bird
  • n. female of certain aquatic animals e.g. octopus or lobster
  • n. flesh of an older chicken suitable for stewing

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English henne, heonne, hinne, from earlier henene, heonenen, henen, from Old English heonan, hionan, heonane, heonone ("hence, from here, away, from how"), from Proto-Germanic *hina, *hinanō (“from here”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱe-, *ḱey- (“this, here”). Cognate with Dutch heen ("away"), German hin ("hence, from here"), Danish hen ("away, further, on"). See also hence. (Wiktionary)
From hen ("hence, away"), or a variant of hench. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English, from Old English henn, hænn ("hen, female chicken"), from Proto-Germanic *hanjō (“hen”), from Proto-Indo-European *kana- (“to sing”). Cognate with Dutch hen ("hen"), German Henne ("hen"), Icelandic hæna ("hen"). Related also to Old English hana ("cock, rooster"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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