no spring chicken

no spring chicken

Meaning

  • Someone who’s no longer young.
  • Someone past adulthood.
  • Who is no longer active because they’re getting old.

Example Sentences

  1. My grandfather is no spring chicken, that’s for sure.
  2. He was always a wild and crazy guy when he was younger, but now he’s no spring chicken.
  3. She may be young, but she knows enough to not act like a spring chicken.
  4. The young couple is no spring chicken when it pertains to having kids.
  5. This man used to behave so well, but I can’t believe he just spoke so rudely. Sam is no spring chicken.
  6. He was a complete sweetheart when he was young, but now he’s like no spring chicken and just talks rudely to everyone.

Origin

The idiom is seen as a not-so-good way of referring to someone old, probably past their prime, and not as lively or active. It’s an old-fashioned way of saying this person is no longer young and they’re getting on in years.

This idiom originated around 1700 in The Spectator, a British periodical. The author, Joseph Addison, said:

“You ought to consider you are now past a chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character.”

Literally, the idiom comes from the way restaurants advertise their chicken as “spring chicken,” meaning their chickens are young and fresh. Since chicks hatch in spring, if the farmer delays, they mature and become tough when slaughtered. “Spring chickens” are thus the ones slaughtered at the perfect time.

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