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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
Historical Examples
  • The Iceland falcon and the ptarmigan have pretty much the same habitat, the one preying upon the other.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • He knew clearly what was to be done, and this he did by promptly eating the ptarmigan.

    White Fang Jack London
  • At one time or another Elstead probably told the officers of the ptarmigan every detail of his strange twelve hours in the abyss.

  • Among birds, the ptarmigan is a fine example of protective colouring.

  • Eider-ducks, looms, and dovekies are abundant, as well as hares and ptarmigan.

    In the Arctic Seas Francis Leopold McClintock
  • The net was of service, not only for fish and beluga, but also for ptarmigan and foxes.

  • But that is the substance of the extraordinary story that Elstead related in fragments to the officers of the ptarmigan.

  • The rise of the ptarmigan had another effect, on which the travellers had not counted.

    The Big Otter R.M. Ballantyne
  • The ptarmigan struggled against him, showering blows upon him with her free wing.

    White Fang Jack London
  • The only ornament which he allowed himself was the white wing of a ptarmigan.

    The Prairie Chief R.M. Ballantyne
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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