In dictionaries,


1 [countable] a common farm bird that is kept for its meat and eggs → hen, cock, rooster, chick

2 [uncountable] the meat from this bird eaten as food

roast chicken

fried chicken

chicken soup

See this picture. They are 2 pieces of roast chicken (not sure I am saying correctly) enter image description here

Now, I ate them all & then I say "I ate 2 roast chickens". Is it wrong to say like that?

If it is wrong, then what is the right way of saying it?

  • 2
    It's wrong to eat two roast chickens, but not to say that you did. And those are definitely two roast (or roasted) chickens in that pan.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 4:33
  • I estimate that this Is the equivalent of three dozen roast mice. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 4:39
  • 1
    No, these aren't "2 pieces of roast chicken". They are two complete, perfectly roasted, flavorful, aromatic, and salivation inducing whole roast chickens, skillfully photographed with even the gribenes showing in the bottom of the pan. Be back in a while. Tomorrow evening, perhaps. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 5:15
  • @P.E.Dant, so you don't see them as "[uncountable] the meat from this bird eaten as food"?
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 5:21
  • @P.E.Dant, when we use "chicken" as "[uncountable] the meat from this bird eaten as food"
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


The picture shows two complete chickens, not two pieces of chicken. While chicken meat can be uncountable, chickens are small enough for the whole bird to be cooked at home. The whole bird is "a chicken" and countable.

If you were to eat two of these, you would "eat two roast chickens". (That is more than most people could manage in one meal, but a smaller bird, like a pigeon, or a very young rooster, might be possible) A piece of chicken would refer to a joint or cut of meat. For example you might buy "4 pieces of fried chicken: two drumsticks and two thighs". Other animals that are small enough to eat are also counted "I ate 3 deep fried prawns", but if they are very small may again be treated as uncountable "I ate a pot of shrimp"

"Chicken" can refer to either the male or female bird, but the meat you buy is almost exclusively from the female "hen", as males (rooster, cock) are identified as chicks and killed.

  • Slightly off-topic, some chickens can be very small, at least in Italy the "galletto", which is a young male chicken (cockerel) is very popular, so it is quite possible to eat two small chickens in one sitting, especially if you are starving or very greedy!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 6:42

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