intransitive/inseparable phrasal verb: chicken out (of)

This week I have a really fun phrasal verb to teach you: “chicken out”. Normally we don’t use the word “chicken” as a verb, but we can use it in this phrasal verb. We use this expression when we want to talk about a person who is planning to do something, then becomes too scared to do it and changes their mind. For example:

Jimmy was planning to ask the boss for a raise, but then he chickened out.

I was going to ask Susan for a date but, in the end, I chickened out. I’m too worried that she’ll say no.

My daughter chickened out of going on the rollercoaster yesterday at Disneyland. She’s still too young for that I guess.

My friend chickened out of going bungee jumping with me. Would you like to go with me instead?

This phrasal verb is inseparable if we add “of” to it and follow it with an object. My last two sentences are examples of this. It can also be intransitive if we don’t add “of”. My first two sentences are examples of this. Once again, as a reminder, intransitive means that the sentence has no object.

This phrasal verb is a little bit casual, but it’s not offensive. Generally, we use this in casual conversations with friends and people we are close to.


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