- a woman who is being a nag to a man.
- a husband who has been intimidated, bullied, or browbeaten by his girlfriend or wife.
- a rude adjective used in the description of an individual, mostly a man, who gets nagged or bullied by another individual, mostly a girlfriend or wife.
- an offensive reference to the annoyance, criticism, dominance, or harassment of the male partner or husband through fault-finding and continued nagging.
- Ken was a henpecked husband who would not dare contradict his wife.
- A henpecked husband made numerous calls to the police with the hope that they would arrive and arrest his wife.
- I have witnessed numerous husbands being henpecked by their wives.
- Don’t let your wife dictate your leisure activities; such henpecking will cause you trouble.
The phrase has been used with certain gender connotations, since a hen is the female chicken. Normally, it is the woman who henpecks the man. The idiom made its first appearance in print form in the 1600s. It is assumed that the phrase emanates from the imagery of the hen persistently pecking on the ground, searching for food.
The basis of the phrase is that a girlfriend or wife can nag her significant other, just as a hen constantly pecks at the ground. Even though the individual complaints or nags are insignificant or small, they accumulate over time, which makes the man unhappy or intimidated.
Some people consider this phrase to be somewhat of an insult to both genders, since it is based on the stereotype of the nagging woman and the man who is unable to stand up for himself.
A ship in which the wife of the captain interfered with the regulations or duties was called a “hen frigate,” with the captain being referred to as a “henpecked husband.”
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The Idioms Dictionary explains common English idioms that are popular worldwide, especially in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand.