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slang To refuse to do something due to fear (real or perceived). Jumping off the high-dive is fun! Don't chicken out! I didn't chicken out, I just changed my mind, OK?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
chicken out (of something)
Inf. to manage to get out of something, usually because of fear or cowardice. Come on! Don't chicken out now! Freddy chickened out of the plan at the last minute.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Back out from fear, lose one's nerve, as in In the end I chickened out and took the easier route down the mountain. Chicken is a popular synonym for "cowardly," a usage arising in the 1600s and 1700s but then apparently abandoned until the 20th century. [Slang; c. 1930]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To decide not to do or complete an activity due to fear: My friends dared me to jump into the pond, but I chickened out and climbed down from the tree.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.