Created on 23 May 2018
Idiom
Run around like a headless chicken
Meaning
To be extremely busy doing more than one thing at a time, but in a disorganised or uncontrolled manner, or in a state of panic.
Origin

Run Around Like a Headless Chicken, cartoon super busy man and father multitask doing many works

This idiom originates from the 14th century. In those days, chickens were killed by chopping their heads off. When a chicken’s head is chopped off, their motor neuron functions still work, so it is common for a chicken to run around, in a panicked fashion bumping against everything they come across for a couple of seconds before dying.

Interesting fact: a chicken called Mike lived for 18 months after having his had chopped off. Amazing, isn’t? Read the full story here.

Examples

- Oh my gosh, I am so busy at work! I’m running around like a headless chicken!

- Let’s make sure everything is ready for the wedding next week, so we don’t have to run around like headless chickens!

- Last month I lost my passport in the airport lounge. You can imagine the state I was in! I had to run around like a headless chicken tracing my steps! I finally found it at the airport restaurant where I’d had breakfast! Phew!

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