1856, "style in fine art, artistic skill, faculty of producing excellence rapidly and easily," from French chic "stylishness" (19c.), originally "subtlety" (16c.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps [Klein] it is related to German Schick, Geschick "tact, skill, aptness," from Middle Low German schikken "arrange appropriately," or Middle High German schicken "to arrange, set in order." Or perhaps it is from French chicane, from chicanerie "trickery" (see chicanery).
Meaning "Parisian elegance and stylishness combined with originality" is by 1882 (Pall Mall Gazette, Sept. 6, 1888, uses the word in a concert review and pauses to define it as "an untranslatable word, denoting an indispensable quality"). As an adjective, in reference to persons, "stylish," 1879 in English. "Not so used in F[rench]" [OED].
c. 1610s, "legal quibbling, sophistry, mean or petty tricks," from French chicanerie "trickery," from chicaner "to pettifog, quibble" (15c.), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle Low German schikken "to arrange, bring about," or from the name of a golf-like game once played in Languedoc. Also compare French chic "small, little," as a noun "a small piece; finesse, subtlety." Thornton's "American Glossary" has shecoonery (1845), which it describes as probably a corruption of chicanery.
also chichi, "extremely chic, sophisticated," also, as a noun, "pretentious fussiness," 1908, from French chichi "airs, fuss." Perhaps, like frou-frou, imitative.
"the young of the domestic hen," also of some other birds, mid-14c., probably originally a shortening of chicken (n.).
Extended 14c. to human offspring, "person of tender years" (often in alliterative pairing chick and child) and thence used as a term of endearment. As slang for "young woman" it is first recorded 1927 (in "Elmer Gantry"), supposedly from African-American vernacular. In British use in this sense by c. 1940; popularized by Beatniks late 1950s (chicken in this sense is by 1860). Sometimes c. 1600-1900 chicken was taken as a plural, chick as a singular (compare child/children) for the domestic fowl.
Old English cicen (plural cicenu) "young of the domestic hen, the young of any bird;" by early Middle English, "any chicken," regardless of age, from Proto-Germanic *kiukinam (source also of Middle Dutch kiekijen, Dutch kieken, Old Norse kjuklingr, Swedish kyckling, German Küken "chicken"), from root *keuk- (echoic of the bird's sound and possibly also the root of cock (n.1)) + diminutive suffixes. By regular sound changes it should have become Modern English *chichen; the reason it didn't is unknown.
Generic words for "chicken" in Indo-European tend to be extended uses of "hen" words, as hens are more numerous than cocks among domestic fowl, but occasionally they are from words for the young, as in English and in Latin (pullus). Meaning "one who is cowardly or timorous" is from 1610s; adjectival sense of "cowardly" is at least as old as 14c. (compare hen-herte "a chicken-hearted person," mid-15c.). As the name of a game of danger to test courage, it is first recorded 1953.
Chicken-feed "paltry sum of money" is by 1897, American English slang; literal use (it is made from the from lowest quality of grain) is by 1834. Chicken lobster "small lobster," is by 1947, American English, apparently from chicken in its sense of "young." To count (one's) chickens before they hatch "anticipate too confidently the obtaining or doing of something" is from 1570s. Chicken-fried steak (1937) is a U.S. Southern recipe that batters, breads, and fries a thin strip of steak in the way fried chicken typically is made.
"young girl," U.S. slang, c. 2002, from American Spanish chica "girl," fem. of chico "boy," noun use of adjective meaning "small" (here used as an affectionate term of address), from Latin ciccum, literally "chick-pea," figurative of a small thing or an object of little value (compare Old French chiche).
type of hawk that is believed to prey on domestic fowl, 1802, American English. Figuratively, from the secondary senses of both words, "public person who advocates war but declined significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime," at least 1988, American English. From chicken (n.) + hawk (n.).
popular name of the American red squirrel, 1829, echoic of its cry.
popular name of a common blue-flowered plant (Cichorium intybus) cultivated for its root, late 14c., cicoree (modern form from mid-15c.), from Old French cicorée "endive, chicory" (15c., Modern French chicorée), from Latin cichoreum, from Greek kikhorion (plural kikhoreia) "endive," which is of unknown origin. Klein suggests a connection with Old Egyptian keksher "chicory" (the plant is said to have been grown and used in ancient Egypt). The modern English form is from French influence. Compare endive.