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pecking order

noun
1.
Animal Behavior. a dominance hierarchy, seen especially in domestic poultry, that is maintained by one bird pecking another of lower status.
2.
a sequence or hierarchy of authority in an organization or social group.
Also, peck order.
Origin
1925-1930
1925-30
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for pecking order
  • It's the beginning of the pecking order that doesn't stop at the property line of the farm.
  • We are in a good place as far as the teams in our conference rank, but there's a pecking order that takes place in the conference.
  • Another type of pecking order revolves around the placement of a group's detector.
  • It's an exposé on the vicious pecking order that is sometimes humorous, sometimes mildly tragic.
  • The pecking order can get so crazy that you end up with a fatality.
  • On the other hand, this seems to be about the mildest case of pecking order horrors.
  • It's a way of testing each other and establishing some early sense of a pecking order.
  • How much of that is because they are interested in maintaining their spot, and keeping others below them, in the pecking order.
  • Today's offices use low-wall cubicles, high-wall cubicles and offices to define status and pecking order.
  • In the barbecue pecking order, gas grills sit at the bottom.
British Dictionary definitions for pecking order

pecking order

noun
1.
Also called peck order. a natural hierarchy in a group of gregarious birds, such as domestic fowl
2.
any hierarchical order, as among people in a particular group
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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pecking order in Culture

pecking order definition


A hierarchy within a social group or community, in which those members at the top assume positions of leadership, authority, and power. The expression originated from a description of social behavior among chickens, which attack each other by pecking to establish dominance.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with pecking order

pecking order

The hierarchy of authority in a group, as in On a space mission, the astronauts have a definite pecking order. This expression, invented in the 1920s by biologists who discovered that domestic poultry maintain such a hierarchy with one bird pecking another of lower status, was transferred to human behavior in the 1950s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for pecking order

dominance hierarchy

a form of animal social structure in which a linear or nearly linear ranking exists, with each animal dominant over those below it and submissive to those above it in the hierarchy. Dominance hierarchies are best known in social mammals, such as baboons and wolves, and in birds, notably chickens (in which the term peck order or peck right is often applied)

Learn more about dominance hierarchy with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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16
20
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