Why Are Women Called “Chicks”?

If you’ve ever been called a “chick”, you might be wondering whether you should smile at the person who called you that or start plotting their doom immediately.

We don’t advocate for violent retaliation! But we can give you some clarity on what this delightful term means.

Why Are Women Called “Chicks”?

The use of the word “chicks” to refer to women is a colloquialism that is considered derogatory in most circles. It may have roots in the British slang phrase, “bird”, or the Spanish word “chica”, both of which refer to women.

why are women called chicks

Would you walk into a room full of women and say, “Hey, chicks”? Many men express reluctance to do this for fear of being disrespectful. But why might this phrase be considered derogatory?

There appears to be some debate surrounding whether the word “chicks” is good or bad. Those who call the term derogatory generally point to other fowl-related comparisons.

For example, to call someone “bird-brained” is an insult to their intelligence, or lack thereof. Additionally, chickens are often associated with stupidity. Therefore, some people claim that calling a woman a “chick” implies that she is vapid and empty-headed.

By extension, using the word “chicks” to refer to women has a pretty negative connotation.

How to Use “Chicks” in a Sentence

The offensiveness of the term “chicks” seems to be pretty context specific. However, having written out these sentences, we can say with confidence that it’s pretty difficult to use the word without sounding just a little scummy.

So, proceed with caution! Here are a few examples of how “chicks” may be used in a sentence. In other words, here are some sentences you may want to avoid:

  • Steve refuses to shave his chest hair; he says chicks dig it.
  • We should go to the bar up the road, man, there are barely any chicks in here!
  • I watched The First Wives Club last night. It’s the ultimate chick flick, but it’s honestly really good.
  • Ironically, Paul has been going on far fewer dates ever since he bought his “chick magnet” T-shirt.
  • Katherine is a very funny chick!

Is your skin crawling, yet? Ours too. Let’s move on.

Origin of “Chicks” for Women

It has been suggested that the term “chicks” comes from the British slang word “bird”, which is used to refer to women of any age. Since a chick is a young bird, it makes sense that “chick”, when referring to women, means a young woman.

Some people have also suggested that it comes from the Spanish word for “girl” or “young woman” – “chica”. This may give credence to the argument that not every person who said “chicks” means it harshly. It may, occasionally, be used as a term of endearment.

There are even some sources that suggest that this derogatory term has since been reclaimed by the feminist movement. This might explain why popular girl bands like The Dixie Chicks, now known as The Chicks,make use of the word.

This may be tongue-in-cheek use of the term, but it certainly reduces the overall scumminess!

Chicks  – Synonyms

Coming up with synonyms for “chicks” is a tricky feat! After all, it isn’t enough to simply provide words that mean the same as “young woman”. The term “chicks” has very specific connotations, often used to demean or infantilize the women it’s directed at.

Here are a couple of similarly off-putting terms for women:

  • Girlies
  • Birds
  • Bimbos
  • Dolls
  • Floozies
  • Babes

Yep, skin’s still crawling. Moving right along!

Incorrect Ways to Use “Chicks”

Hang on, you might be saying, I thought a “chick” was a baby chicken! Well, you’re quite right and your confusion is valid.

“Chicks”, in this context, refers to a derogatory term for young women. It does not refer to juvenile poultry.

You’ll feel awful silly if you get this one wrong!

  • “Hey, man, are there any chicks around here?”
  • “Sir, this is a pub in the middle of the city, I can’t imagine why you think you’d find chickens here.”

In What Situations Can You Use “Chicks”?

We’d advise that you use this phrase, um, never. But, hey, if marginally scummy is what you’re going for, you can use this term in a number of circumstances:

1. When you’re referring to a group of women and happen not to respect that particular demographic:

  • Hey chicks, how’s it going?

2. When you’re a big fan of country music:

  • I saw The Chicks live back on ’02! They were great!

3. When you’re being ironic or reclaiming this derogatory term in the name of feminism:

  • Chicks do it better!

4. When you’re being ironic in general:

  • I can’t believe Paul, the self-proclaimed chick magnet, can’t get a girlfriend.

Is It Chic or Chick?

“Chick” is definitely the correct word in this context.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “chic” as meaning “stylish and fashionable”. As much as we’d love it if this was the basis for the term directed at women, such is not the case. Oh, to have nice things!

“Chick” is directed at women not to indicate that the speaker deems them stylish or fashionable. It is usually meant to be demeaning or infantilizing to the target of the phrase.

That being said, I imagine the women in your life would far prefer that you call them “chic”!