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Chicken vs. Fowl: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 13, 2023
Chicken refers specifically to a domesticated bird bred for meat or eggs, while fowl generally denotes any bird, domesticated or wild, particularly those hunted for food.

Key Differences

Chicken is a term specifically used for a domesticated species, Gallus gallus domesticus, commonly raised for its meat and eggs. Fowl, on the other hand, is a broader term that encompasses a wide range of birds, both domesticated and wild, often used in the context of hunting and game.
In culinary contexts, chicken typically refers to the meat of the domesticated bird, known for its versatility in dishes worldwide. Fowl, in contrast, can include a variety of bird meats, from wild species like pheasants to domesticated ones like turkeys, each with distinct flavors and culinary uses.
In farming, chickens are prominent for their egg production, with breeds specifically cultivated for high yield and quality. Fowl, in a broader agricultural sense, may include other egg-producing birds, but the term is less specific to egg production than chicken.
When discussing pet birds, chicken often refers to those kept for companionship or hobby farming, appreciated for their unique breeds and characteristics. Fowl, while it can include domesticated birds like chickens, generally encompasses a wider range of bird species, not all of which are commonly kept as pets.
In ornithology, chicken is a clear reference to a specific species within the poultry group. Conversely, fowl is used more broadly to describe a category of birds within the avian class, including various species beyond domesticated poultry.

Comparison Chart

Species Specificity

Refers specifically to Gallus gallus domesticus.
A broader term for any birds, especially those hunted for food.

Usage in Cuisine

Mainly denotes the meat of domesticated chickens.
Can denote meat from various birds, including wild game.

Context in Farming

Primarily for egg production and meat.
Includes a wider range of birds, not solely for egg production.

Pet Ownership

Commonly kept as pets or for hobby farming.
Less commonly kept as pets, encompasses a broader range of birds.

Ornithological Definition

Specific to a single species within poultry.
A general category in ornithology, covering various bird species.

Chicken and Fowl Definitions


A domesticated bird raised for its meat and eggs.
The farmer raised chickens for fresh eggs every morning.


Birds, especially those hunted for food.
Hunters went out in search of wild fowl.


The meat of the domesticated chicken, used in cooking.
She cooked chicken soup to warm up the chilly evening.


Domesticated birds like chickens, turkeys, or ducks.
The farm had a variety of fowl, including ducks and geese.


A young, inexperienced person.
The new intern was just a chicken, learning the ropes.


Any bird in general, often used in poetry or literature.
The poet wrote about the beauty of the fowl in the forest.


An informal game where participants challenge each other to risky behavior.
They played a game of chicken to see who would swerve first.


A term used in sports, similar to 'foul,' indicating a violation.
The referee blew the whistle for a fowl in the basketball game.


A term used to describe someone who is cowardly.
He was called a chicken for not daring to ride the roller coaster.


Used metaphorically to represent something undesirable or a problem.
Don't let the fowl of worry peck at your peace of mind.


A common domesticated fowl (Gallus domesticus) widely raised for meat and eggs and believed to be descended from the jungle fowl G. gallus.


Any of various birds of the order Galliformes, especially the common, widely domesticated chicken (Gallus domesticus).


Any of various similar or related birds.


A bird, such as a duck, goose, turkey, or pheasant, that is used as food or hunted as game.


The flesh of the chicken, used as food.


The flesh of such birds used as food.


Are all chickens considered fowl?

Yes, chickens are a type of fowl.

What does fowl mean?

A term for birds, especially those hunted for food.

Is chicken meat different from other fowl meats?

Yes, it has a distinct taste and texture.

Can fowl refer to birds other than chickens?

Yes, it includes a variety of birds.

Are chickens used for purposes other than food?

Yes, they can be pets or used for egg production.

Do the terms chicken and fowl have different uses in cooking?

Yes, chicken specifically refers to chicken meat, while fowl can mean meat from various birds.

Are all fowl edible?

Most are, but it depends on the species and local laws.

Is the term fowl used in sports?

Yes, but as a homophone for 'foul,' not relating to birds.

Are there wild fowl that resemble chickens?

Yes, there are wild species similar to domestic chickens.

What is a chicken?

A domesticated bird raised for eggs and meat.

Are chickens easy to farm?

Generally yes, but they require proper care and environment.

Do chickens have a role in cultural or religious practices?

Yes, in many cultures, chickens have symbolic or ritualistic roles.

Are chickens intelligent?

They have a certain level of intelligence and can be trained.

Can chickens be considered wild animals?

No, they are domesticated, though they have wild ancestors.

Can fowl be used in a metaphorical sense?

Yes, in literature it can symbolize various concepts.

Can chickens fly?

They can, but not high or far due to their body structure.

Are there endangered species of fowl?

Yes, some fowl species are endangered or threatened.

Is the term 'fowl' used in ornithology?

Yes, it's used to describe certain bird groups.

Can fowl be kept as pets?

Yes, some types of fowl are kept as pets.

Do all fowl lay eggs?

Female fowl of reproductive age generally lay eggs.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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