Idioms with Rooster (Definitions, REAL Examples, Video)

I never get tired of putting together lists of useful English idioms. Today’s list is idioms with roosters. I’m trying to get to idioms made with the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac this year. 

Idioms and expressions with Rooster/Cock

  • Sneak The Sunrise Past A Rooster
  • Up With The Roosters
  • Cock and bull story 
  • Cock Of The Walk
  • Cocksure
  • Cocky

Keep reading for definitions, real example sentences, and Rooster Idioms in the NEWS. Everything you need to know about English Rooster Idioms in one place.

Rooster Meaning

rooster noun (especially North American English) (British English also cock)

​an adult male chicken

rooster noun – 

  • My grandfather had 6 chickens and 2 roosters on his farm.
  • The rooster crows every morning at sunrise, without fail.

In British English, a male chicken is called a cock. You will find several Idioms on this list that use cock to mean rooster.

Roosters are proud and fearless.

Rooster Origin

Rooster comes from the verb roost which means ​(of birds) to rest or go to sleep somewhere

Word Origin
“Rooster” was originally shorthand for “roosting bird” SOURCE

Rooster Idioms

Sneak The Sunrise Past A Rooster – This idiom means to do something that is very difficult or almost impossible. 

  • My wife is a light sleeper. Trying to get home late without waking her up is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster.

  • The other team’s goalie played a perfect game today. Putting a puck in the net was like sneaking the sunrise past a rooster. We couldn’t do it.

Up With The Roosters – Wake up very early, when the sun first rises over the horizon. This is when roosters typically wake up and begin to crow.

*Crow is a verb that means to make repeated loud high sounds, especially early in the morning (This is the sound made by roosters.)


  • We woke up with the roosters crowing every morning. We did our chores and then had a big breakfast together as a family.
  • I need t go to bed early tonight. I have an early flight tomorrow so I need to be up with the roosters to make it to the airport in time. 

Did you know?
The verb crow can also be used to mean brag or boast.

  • Jerry scored the winning goal last Saturday and he’s been crowing about it all week. 

Cock and bull story – A story that is clearly false, often an excuse for something

  • This report was supposed to be finished yesterday, why haven’t you done it? Tell me the truth, don’t give me some Cock and Bull story. 

This Idiom comes from my Cow and Ox Idiom post. You can find that post here: 16 Common Cow Idioms (That You Can Start Using Today)

Cock Of The Walk – A person who acts or thinks they are very important, more important than others 

  • Michelle has been walking around the office all morning like she’s cock of the walk.  I’ve never liked Michelle, she’s way too arrogant for me. 
  • After Jerry scored the winning goal he was walking around the changeroom like the cock of the walk.
He thinks he’s cock of the walk now.

cocky adjective (comparative cockier, superlative cockiest) (informal)

– ​too confident about yourself in a way that annoys other people

  • He was a good fighter but he was also very cocky. This would be his downfall. 
  • Stay humble and people will like you, get cocky and people won’t want to be around you. 

Word Origin
mid 16th cent. (in the sense ‘lecherous’): from cock + -y.

cocksure adjective – confident in a way that is annoying to other people and that they might find offensive (The meaning is similar to the adjective cocky.)

  • The thing that bothers me about Michelle is that she’s always so cocksure about everything. She needs to be more humble.
  • The tennis player was cocksure and arrogant. Everyone hoped he would lose.

Word Origin
early 16th cent.: from archaic cock (a euphemism for God) + sure

Did you know?
The name of the South Carolina University athletic teams is the Gamecocks

Their mascot is a rooster named Cocky. He represents a cartoon version of a gamecock (a fighting rooster). SOURCE

By Jus1033 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Image Credit

Rooster Idiom In Japanese

I live in Japan so I have access to lots of Japanese idioms. Here’s a Japanese idiom I found that uses the word rooster. 

Keikou-gyugo (鶏口牛後) = It’s better to be the beak of a rooster than the rump of a bull.

This means it’s better to be at the top of a small organization than to be at the bottom of a large organization. 

This expression is similar in meaning to some other animal idioms, for example: Better to be the head of a dog then to be the tail of a lion. 

Weekly Japanese Idiom: “Keikou-gyugo” – Better the Beak of a Rooster Than the Rump of a Bull | Tokyo Weekender

Movie With Rooster

Rooster Cogburn is a Western movie from 1975 starring legendary actor John Wayne and leading lady Katharine Hepburn. Wayne plays a character named Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshal who unwillingly teams up with a woman to track down her father’s murderers.

Rooster Cogburn (1975) – IMDb 

Songs With Rooster

The song was written by Alice in Chains guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell for his father, Jerry Cantrell Sr., who served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. “Rooster” was a childhood nickname given to Cantrell Sr. by his great-grandfather, because of his perceived “cocky” attitude and his hair, which used to stick up on top of his head like a rooster’s comb.
Rooster (song). (2022, August 17). In Wikipedia. 

Rooster Idioms In The News

Rooster Idioms

Florida Studio Theatre serves up something delightful in ‘Something Rotten!’

They set the musical in London’s theater community in 1595. Shakespeare’s the cock of the walk, but he’s not the protagonist.

Shop early Black Friday deals at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy and other stores

Peacock is only 99 cents a month in Cyber Monday deal — use this promo code and become cock of the walk. (Peacock is an American video streaming service – Peacock contains the word cock so they used this idiom in the article.)

Cocksure Khamzat demands ‘easy money’ fight against Alex Pereira

In the story, an MMA fighter named Khamzat Chimaev is challenging a fighter named Alex Pereira to a match. Khamzat Chimaev is extremely confident, maybe overconfident. This is why the headline calls him cocksure.

Overconfident is an adjective that uses the word over as a prefix. Learn how to use the words Over and Under as Prefixes at my blog post here: Your #1 Guide to using Over and Under as Prefixes (free PDF)

N.B. ‘bird man’ rescues homeless roosters: ‘No sleeping for me’ – New Brunswick
This story doesn’t use rooster idioms, but it’s a nice tale about a man who takes care of roosters with no home.

I want to end this rooster idiom post with a happy story.

Thanks for reading. If you can think of some idioms that I left out, please tell me in the comments. Also, share any Rooster Idioms from your own language.

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