Please, have a look at the sentence from the A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle (Chapter 3 = The Lauriston Garden Mystery).

  • “This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked. “It beats anything I have seen, and I am no chicken.”

Lestrade, lean and ferret-like as ever, was standing by the doorway, and greeted my companion and myself.
“This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked. “It beats anything I have seen, and I am no chicken.”
“There is no clue?” said Gregson.
“None at all,” chimed in Lestrade.
Sherlock Holmes approached the body, and, kneeling down, examined it intently. “You are sure that there is no wound?” he asked, pointing to numerous gouts and splashes of blood which lay all round.

What is the meaning of 'I am no chicken'? I can not find the correct answer. Could you please explain it to me?

  • 1
    Are you sure the expression isn't no spring chicken? Your question needs more context in order for users to know if the quotation is a shortened version of the former, or if the speaker was talking about something completely different.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:21
  • @Mari-LouA, I read the whole page and your suggestion fits perfectly. It's from a Study in Scarlet. Apr 3, 2017 at 9:02
  • It either means that you not a coward (chicken) or you are not young anymore (spring chicken). Apr 3, 2017 at 9:25
  • 2
    @SovereignSun I agree that was the likely source, but please be careful about inserting context into a post unless OP gives some kind of confirmation that it's accurate. We don't want to make a mistake and provide inaccurate answers for OP.
    – Em.
    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:57
  • 1
    @Lawrence my comment was posted before the context was added. In fact, the question was closed for being unclear.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 3, 2017 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


There are three possible meanings for using


The usual meaning is to describe someone who is cowardly. This does not fit into your context.

The second as suggested by @Mari-Lou A is "spring chicken" and a possible hint is the preceding phrase

“It beats anything I have seen"

so to say "I am no spring chicken" means "I've been around and seen a few things", which might fit into this context, but as @Max points out may also change the context.

A third interpretation is along the same line as the previous for the speaker's advice on clues, chickens are considered stupid and mindless animals (whether or not they really are is a matter of debate). So, since the context of the conversation is whether or not there are any signs of foul play (pun intended) at the crime scene, the speaker is saying they are "not stupid" since Sherlock questions whether there were any clues.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .