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Animal Behavior. a dominance hierarchy, seen especially in domestic poultry, that is maintained by one bird pecking another of lower status.
a sequence or hierarchy of authority in an organization or social group.
Also called peck order. a natural hierarchy in a group of gregarious birds, such as domestic fowl
any hierarchical order, as among people in a particular group

A hierarchy within a social group or community, in which those members at the top assume positions of leadership, authority, and power. The expression originated from a description of social behavior among chickens, which attack each other by pecking to establish dominance.
The hierarchy of authority in a group, as in On a space mission, the astronauts have a definite pecking order. This expression, invented in the 1920s by biologists who discovered that domestic poultry maintain such a hierarchy with one bird pecking another of lower status, was transferred to human behavior in the 1950s.


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  • Pearl-perch

    noun 1. an edible marine fish, Glaucosoma scapulare, of eastern Australian coastal waters.

  • Peckish

    [pek-ish] /ˈpɛk ɪʃ/ adjective, Chiefly British Informal. 1. somewhat hungry: By noon we were feeling a bit peckish. 2. rather irritable: He’s always a bit peckish after his nap. /ˈpɛkɪʃ/ adjective 1. (informal, mainly Brit) feeling slightly hungry; having an appetite adj. “somewhat hungry,” literally “disposed to peck,” 1785, from peck (v.) + -ish. Related: […]

  • Pecksniff

    [pek-snif] /ˈpɛk snɪf/ noun 1. a person of attitudes or behavior: a virtuousness that only a pecksniff could aspire to. noun an extreme hypocrite Word Origin a character in Charles Dickens’ ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’

  • Pecksniffery

    [pek-snif-ee-uh n] /pɛkˈsnɪf i ən/ adjective, (often lowercase) 1. hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles. /pɛkˈsnɪfɪən/ adjective 1. affecting benevolence or high moral principles adj. 1851, after Mr. Pecksniff, unctuous hypocrite in Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit” (1844).

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