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Hen vs. Chicken: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 27, 2023
A hen is a mature female chicken, while a chicken refers to the bird in general, regardless of age or gender.

Key Differences

When people talk about chickens, they could be referring to the bird as a species. Chickens are domesticated birds kept primarily for their eggs and meat. The term encompasses the entire species, which means it covers both males and females, young and old. A hen, on the other hand, has a specific gender and age reference; it describes an adult female chicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023
Hens are integral to the farming ecosystem, as they lay eggs. When someone mentions they're getting eggs from their chickens, it's the hens they're referring to. Chickens, in a broader sense, contribute to farms in numerous ways – roosters, for instance, might be used for breeding or even as guard animals, while hens are primarily valued for egg production.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023
When it comes to the poultry market, the term chicken is widely used to describe the meat you buy, be it from a rooster, a hen, or a younger bird. Hens, after their egg-producing years, might end up as meat, but in many commercial settings, broilers – chickens raised specifically for meat – are more commonly consumed.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023
In casual conversations, the word chicken is more common. If someone mentions they have chickens in their backyard, it doesn't provide specific information about the mix of roosters, hens, or chicks they might have. However, if someone specifically uses the term hen, it's clear they are discussing adult female chickens.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 26, 2023

Comparison Chart

Gender

Female
Any gender (male, female)
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023
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Age

Adult
Any age (chick, juvenile, adult)
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Oct 26, 2023

Primary Role on Farm

Egg production
Egg production, meat, breeding
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Oct 26, 2023

Usage in Meat Industry

Less common for meat
Commonly used for meat
Janet White
Oct 26, 2023

General Reference

Specific to adult females
General term for the bird species
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Hen and Chicken Definitions

Hen

Can become broody.
The hen sat firmly on her eggs, showing signs of broodiness.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023
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Chicken

Can refer to any gender or age.
That chicken could be a rooster, hen, or even a chick.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

Hen

An adult female chicken.
The hen laid an egg in the coop.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Chicken

A domesticated bird raised for eggs and meat.
The farmer has a large flock of chickens.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Hen

Distinct from roosters.
Unlike the rooster, the hen doesn't crow at dawn.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Chicken

Commonly consumed poultry meat.
She prepared a delicious chicken curry for dinner.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023
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Hen

Known for egg production.
The farmer relies on the hen for consistent eggs.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Chicken

A central figure in many jokes.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Hen

A female bird, especially the adult female chicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A common domesticated fowl (Gallus domesticus) widely raised for meat and eggs and believed to be descended from the jungle fowl G. gallus.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

The female of certain aquatic animals, such as an octopus or lobster.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Any of various similar or related birds.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Often Offensive Slang A usually older woman, especially one who is engaged in conversation with other women.
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Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

The flesh of the chicken, used as food.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A female chicken (Gallus gallus), particularly a sexually mature one kept for her eggs.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

(Slang) A coward.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A female of other bird species, particularly a sexually mature female fowl.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Any of various foolhardy competitions in which the participants persist in a dangerous course of action until one loses nerve and stops.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

(uncommon) A female fish (especially a salmon or trout) or crustacean.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Vulgar Slang A young gay male, especially as sought by an older man.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A woman, particularly
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Afraid; cowardly.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A bride-to-be, particularly in the context of her "hen night" festivities.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

To act in a cowardly manner; lose one's nerve
Chickened out at the last moment.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A hen night.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

(countable) A domesticated species of junglefowl (usually, Gallus gallus; sometimes, Gallus gallus domesticus or Gallus domesticus), especially so-called when young.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

An affectionate term of address used to women or girls.
Don't cry, hen. Everything will be all right.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

(uncountable) The meat from this bird eaten as food.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

A henlike person of either sex.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

(archaic) The young of any bird; a chick.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

The hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria), a bivalve shellfish.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A coward.
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Oct 07, 2023

Hen

(dialectal) Hence.
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Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A young or inexperienced person.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

(dialectal) To throw.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A young, attractive, slim man, usually having little body hair; compare chickenhawk.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

The female of the domestic fowl; also, the female of grouse, pheasants, or any kind of birds; as, the heath hen; the gray hen.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

The game of dare.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Adult female chicken
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A confrontational game in which the participants move toward each other at high speed (usually in automobiles); the player who turns first to avoid colliding into the other is the chicken (that is, the loser).
Don't play chicken with a freight train; you're guaranteed to lose.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Adult female bird
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A simple dance in which the movements of a chicken are imitated.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Flesh of an older chicken suitable for stewing
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

 A kilogram of cocaine.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Female of certain aquatic animals e.g. octopus or lobster
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Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Plural of chick
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Oct 07, 2023

Hen

Often protective of chicks.
The hen clucked protectively, gathering her chicks nearby.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

Chicken

(informal) Cowardly.
Why do you refuse to fight? Huh, I guess you're just too chicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

(intransitive) To avoid a situation one is afraid of.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A young bird or fowl, esp. a young barnyard fowl.
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Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A young person; a child; esp. a young woman; a maiden; same as spring chicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

The flesh of a chicken used for food
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A domestic fowl bred for flesh or eggs; believed to have been developed from the red jungle fowl
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Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A person who lacks confidence, is irresolute and wishy-washy
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

A foolhardy competition; a dangerous activity that is continued until one competitor becomes afraid and stops
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Easily frightened
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 07, 2023

Chicken

Used in expressions to denote fear.
Don't be a chicken; it's just a small jump!
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

FAQs

Which one lays eggs, hen or chicken?

Only hens lay eggs.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Is chicken meat always from hens?

No, chicken meat can come from roosters, hens, or broilers.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Is every chicken a hen?

No, only adult female chickens are hens.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Why might someone specify "hen" instead of "chicken"?

Using "hen" specifically denotes adult female chickens.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 26, 2023

Do all chickens grow up to be hens?

No, only female chickens grow up to be hens; males become roosters.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Can a chick be called a chicken?

Yes, "chicken" can refer to birds of any age.
Harlon Moss
Oct 26, 2023

Which is more specific in terms of age and gender: hen or chicken?

Hen is more specific, referring only to adult females.
Janet White
Oct 26, 2023

How can you differentiate a hen from a rooster?

Hens and roosters often have distinct physical features and behaviors, with roosters typically having more prominent combs and spurs.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Can both hens and roosters be called chickens?

Yes, the term "chicken" can refer to any gender or age.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Are all chickens kept for meat?

No, some are kept for egg production, breeding, or even as pets.
Sara Rehman
Oct 26, 2023

Do hens sing?

Hens can make a "cackling" sound, especially after laying an egg, but it's not singing in a human sense.
Harlon Moss
Oct 26, 2023

Are hens social animals?

Yes, both hens and other chickens are social and often establish a "pecking order" within their groups.
Harlon Moss
Oct 26, 2023

When does a chicken become a hen?

A female chicken becomes a hen when she reaches maturity.
Sara Rehman
Oct 26, 2023

Why do some farms keep more hens than roosters?

Hens lay eggs, so they are often kept in larger numbers for egg production.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Is "chicken" ever used to describe other poultry?

Typically, "chicken" specifically refers to this species, but it might be used colloquially for other birds.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 26, 2023

Are all chickens on a farm hens?

No, a farm's chicken population can consist of roosters, hens, and chicks.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 26, 2023

What do chickens eat?

Chickens are omnivores; they can eat grains, seeds, insects, and even small rodents or reptiles.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 26, 2023

Can a chicken be both a hen and a broiler?

No, broilers are chickens raised specifically for meat, whereas hens are adult female chickens.
Janet White
Oct 26, 2023

How long does a chicken live?

With proper care, a chicken can live 5-10 years, but it varies by breed and environment.
Sara Rehman
Oct 26, 2023

Why are some hens called "broody"?

A broody hen wants to hatch eggs and will sit on them consistently, often showing protective behavior.
Harlon Moss
Oct 26, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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