beat a hen a-pecking v phr Also beat a hen a-rooting, ~a-flying, beat hens a-pecking; for addit varr see quots chiefly S Midl
= beat the Dutch v phr; hence adv phr to beat a hen a-pecking.
1876 Winchester Jrl. (IN) 25 Oct /3 (newspaperarchive.com), Peter Reinheimer thought it beat a hen a peckin. c1920 in 1993 Farwell–Nicholas Smoky Mt. Voices 23 sAppalachians, I slep’ last night to beat a hen a’ peckin’. 1926 TX Folkl. Soc. Pub. 5.84 ceTX,That beats a hen a-scratchin’. Don’t that just beat a hen a-lopin’? 1944 PADS 2.57 nMO, To beat hens a-rastlin’. . . To be most unusual. 1954 Atlantic Mth. July 49 WY, As she said herself, she could play to beat hens a pecking. 1966–68 DARE (Qu. GG22b, When you come to the end of your patience, you might say, “Well, that certainly _____.”) Inf TN26, Don’t that beat a hen a-flyin’; NC37, Beats a hen a-routin’ [sic]. 1967 DARE FW Addit TN22, “That beats the hens a-rootin’ and the hogs a-peckin’”—to express surprise at something. 1972 Hall Sayings Old Smoky 83 cwNC, “That beats a hen a-rootin’.” Bob McClure, Saunook, 1939. . . (Brown Messer says still very common, 1967). 1984 Wilder You All Spoken Here 52 Sth, That beats hens a-pacin’: Observation made of a sexy woman’s gait, manner, or dress. 1999 Mason Clear Springs 10 wKY, She laughs. . .“If that don’t beat a hen a-rootin’!” she says. . . Today there’s a good chance you won’t hear many people under sixty say, “If that don’t beat a hen a-rootin’.” 2012 Paris News (TX) 27 Nov 4/3, My old mother would have begun the conversation in one of two ways—1) If that don’t beat a hen a’pecking or 2) Ain’t it the “beatenest” thing?