running around like a headless chicken

running around like a headless chicken


  • to carry on in a disorganised manner
  • a state of panic where there is a lot of running around which isn't effective
  • running around without direction or aimlessly
  • doing a lot of things at the same time without planning or purpose

Example Sentences

  1. After failing to take her equipment to the lab, Lizzie ran around like a headless chicken while trying to conduct her experiment.
  2. He ran around like a headless chicken after he missed his flight to the US.
  3. It is important to get everything organised for the meeting today so that we don't end up running around like headless chickens.
  4. He is such a disorganised fellow, always running around like a headless chicken before very major presentation.


This idiom originates from as early as the 14th century in England when chickens were popularly killed by chopping off their heads with an axe. Some of the chickens ran around in a panic, crashing into objects after their heads have been chopped off, just before they dropped dead. The most popular case of this was of Mike the headless chicken who lived for 18 months after he was head was chopped off.

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