chicken hawk

chicken hawk
A person who now advocates war but who once took special measures to avoid military service. Also: chicken-hawk, chickenhawk.
Example Citation:
Well, it looks like the "chicken-hawks" are at it again. These people who were too chicken to go to war (or even serve in the military) become middle-aged hawks looking for an opportunity to send others to kill and be killed.
— Peter Lorenzo, "Chicken hawks," Sacramento Bee, March 31, 2002
Earliest Citation:
In England during World War I, as thousands were dying pointlessly in the trenches, pretty girls went around handing white feathers — a symbol of cowardice — to men who weren't in uniform. The one group currently being handed white feathers who may deserve them are the so-called "war wimps" or "chicken hawks" — prominent Americans helping to spread war fever today who avoided service during Vietnam.
— "No white feather, please," The New Republic, June 16, 1986
There's also an earlier war-related sense that has a slightly different meaning: Someone who willingly goes to war, but who is also afraid of combat. This sense appears to have been coined by the writer Robert Mason in his 1983 Vietnam memoir, Chickenhawk:
It is to combat that Bob Mason is always drawn, no matter how frightened he feels (which is why he is both ''chicken'' and a ''hawk,'' therefore a ''chickenhawk'').
— Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Chickenhawk," The New York Times, August 4, 1983
The red-tail hawk is known in certain parts of the U.S. as a chicken hawk. And although many people of a certain age would be hard-pressed to tell you what a chicken hawk looks like, they know the term well having been brought up watching Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, many of which featured a young chicken hawk named Henry. (Foghorn Leghorn was a rooster and he was many times larger than Henry, but that didn't stop the confident but confused youngster: "You're a chicken and I'm a chicken hawk; are you coming quietly or do I have to muss you up?")
A different, though still possibly overlapping, segment of the population will be familiar with another sense of the phrase chicken hawk: A gay man who prefers adolescent sexual partners. (This term has also been used for a straight man who seeks adolescent girls.)
That sense dates to 1965, so it's much older than the sense used in today's phrase.
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New words. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • chicken hawk — public person who advocates war but who declined significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime, at least 1988, Amer.Eng., from CHICKEN (Cf. chicken) + HAWK (Cf. hawk) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • chicken hawk — ☆ chicken hawk n. any of various hawks, esp. an accipiter, that prey, or are reputed to prey, on barnyard fowl …   English World dictionary

  • chicken hawk — noun a) Any of the North American hawk species (Coopers hawk, sharp shinned hawk and red tailed hawk), or counterparts elsewhere, mistakenly believed to be pests. b) An adult male preferring younger male sexual partners …   Wiktionary

  • chicken hawk — noun nontechnical term for any hawks said to prey on poultry • Syn: ↑hen hawk • Hypernyms: ↑hawk …   Useful english dictionary

  • chicken hawk — noun Date: 1827 1. a hawk that preys or is believed to prey on chickens 2. slang a man who pursues boys or young men for sexual purposes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • chicken hawk — 1. Also called hen hawk. (not used scientifically) any of various hawks said to prey on poultry. 2. Slang. an older man who seeks out young boys as sexual partners. [1820 30, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • chicken hawk — chick′en hawk n. 1) orn any of various hawks said to prey on poultry 2) cvb Slang. an older man who seeks out young boys as sexual partners …   From formal English to slang

  • chicken hawk — A species of hawk which preys on chickens …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys — Directed by Adi Sideman Produced by Adi Sideman Written by Adi Sideman, Nadav Harel Narrated by Barbara Adler, Mimi Turner …   Wikipedia

  • Chicken (game) — For other uses, see Chicken (disambiguation). The game of chicken, also known as the hawk dove or snowdrift[1] game, is an influential model of conflict for two players in game theory. The principle of the game is that while each player prefers… …   Wikipedia