idiom: to not be a spring chicken

im_no_spring_chicken_wooden_sign

Today, I’d like to write about the expression “not be a spring chicken”. We use it when we want to talk about a person who is getting much older or who is already quite old. Here are some ways to use it in sentences.

Please slow down! I can’t go as fast as you can. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

A: Is your boss old?
B: Well, he’s not so old, but he’s not exactly a spring chicken either.

My aunt is no spring chicken, but she’s still a very active person.

The members of that band are no spring chickens anymore, but they still make very good music.

In English, a “spring chicken” is a young chicken between the ages of two months and ten months old.

We almost always use this in grammatically negative sentences. It is possible to use it in a positive sentence, as in “He’s just a spring chicken.” meaning he’s very young. However, these cases are quite rare, so it’s more common to say “He’s not a spring chicken.” meaning he’s quite old.

We can use two types of negation with this expression. We can use the word “not” + “a” + “spring chicken”, as in my first two examples. We can also use the word “no” + “spring chicken”, as in my last two examples. Both ways are commonly used.

Please note that “spring chicken” is countable, so if we’re talking about more than one person, we must add an “s” to the word “chicken”. This is the case of my last example.

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