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[tahr-mi-guh n] /ˈtɑr mɪ gən/
noun, plural ptarmigans (especially collectively) ptarmigan.
any of several grouses of the genus Lagopus, of mountainous and cold northern regions, having feathered feet.
Origin of ptarmigan
1590-1600; pseudo-Greek spelling of Scots Gaelic tarmarchan, akin to Irish tarmanach Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ptarmigan
  • There they foraged for salmon and other fish, ptarmigan and other birds, ground squirrels and other small mammals.
  • ptarmigan nibble on willow, and gyrfalcons dive for ptarmigan.
  • More than any other grouse, ptarmigan seem unconcerned about humans.
  • Hardy ptarmigan remain active at higher elevations through the winter, as do pikas.
  • ptarmigan are limited in distribution, and they're highly prized because of their novelty.
  • They are extremely powerful fliers and can chase down prey such as ptarmigan with apparent ease.
  • Year-round species include ptarmigan, grouse, ravens and a variety of owls.
British Dictionary definitions for ptarmigan


noun (pl) -gans, -gan
any of several arctic and subarctic grouse of the genus Lagopus, esp L. mutus, which has a white winter plumage
(sometimes capital) a created domestic fancy pigeon with ruffled or curled feathers on the wings and back
Word Origin
C16: changed (perhaps influenced by Greek pteron wing) from Scottish Gaelic tarmachan, diminutive of tarmach, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ptarmigan

bird of the grouse family, 1590s, from Gaelic tarmachan, of unknown origin. The pt- spelling (1680s) is a mistaken Greek construction (perhaps based on pteron "wing").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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