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[pri-koh-shuh l] /prɪˈkoʊ ʃəl/
adjective, Biology
(of an animal species) active and able to move freely from birth or hatching and requiring little parental care (opposed to altricial).
Origin of precocial
1870-75; precoci(ous) + -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for precocial
  • Within hours of hatching, the precocial chicks leave the nest but stay close to be brooded by the parents.
  • Nestlings are precocial but remain with adults until the subsequent spring.
  • Chicks are semi-precocial and can leave the nest, which is usually built in the open, to find shade on hot days.
  • Hares are also precocial, meaning they are born with hair and with their eyes open.
  • The chicks are precocial, which means they leave the nest with their parents, shortly after hatching.
  • The chicks are precocial and can move around and follow the hen soon after hatching.
  • Piping plover chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after hatching.
  • Snowy plover chicks are precocial, leaving the nest within hours after hatching to search for food.
  • Chicks are hatched precocial, downy, and able to feed themselves.
British Dictionary definitions for precocial


(of the young of some species of birds after hatching) covered with down, having open eyes, and capable of leaving the nest within a few days of hatching
a precocial bird
Compare altricial
Word Origin
C19: see precocious
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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precocial in Science
Born or hatched in a condition requiring relatively little parental care, as by having hair or feathers, open eyes, and the ability to move about. Water birds, reptiles, and herd animals usually have precocial young. Compare altricial.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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