No spring chicken

Posted by Faisal khan on September 26, 2001

In Reply to: No spring chicken posted by R. Berg on February 15, 2001

: : : Where did this phrase originate? What does it mean?

: : No spring chicken means no longer a chick. No longer a young boy or girl. "I'm not a spring chicken anymore."

: : SPRING CHICKEN - "We find the expression 'now past a chicken,' meaning 'no longer young,' recorded as early as 1711 by Steele in 'The Spectator': 'You ought to consider you are now past a chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character.' 'No spring chicken,' an exaggeration of the phrase, is first recorded in America in 1906." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

: The figurative meaning comes from the literal meaning: a young chicken, having tender meat. Some restaurant menus describe an offering as spring chicken to convince customers that the bird was slaughtered at the peak of perfection. This phrase doesn't seem to be applied to people very often anymore. Middle-aged and elderly women used to say "I'm no spring chicken," meaning they were past young adulthood, when talking about their attractiveness or their health and energy level.