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The meaning and origin of the expression: Pigeon-chested

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Pigeon-chested

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Meaning

Having a narrow chest with a protruding breastbone - alluding to the appearance of pigeons.

Origin

pigeon-chestedThis phrase originated in the form of pigeon-breasted, which is known since the early 19th century; for example, the 1808 edition of A Universal System of Natural History refers to "The pigeon-breasted salmon" - which must have been a strange beast.

Pigeon-chested followed later in the century. The first example I can find is from The Times, June 1873:

"He described him as thin, pigeon chested, with dark hair, perfectly straight."