General English


  • noun a bird, especially a hen, raised on a farm for food.


  • An edible bird, usually applied to older or tougher poultry suitable for boiling, casseroling or making soup

Origin & History of “fowl”

Fowl was the main term for ‘bird’ in the Old English period, but in middle English it was gradually replaced by bird. (It remains in use in compounds, such as wildfowl and waterfowl, and is sometimes still applied to ‘chickens’.) It goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *foglaz or *fuglaz, which also produced the still very much current German and Dutch vogel, Swedish fåagel, and Danish fugl, all signifying ‘bird’, and which may have been a derivative of the same source (*fleug-) as gave English fly – in which case fowl would mean literally ‘flying creature’.