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[moo r-hen] /ˈmʊərˌhɛn/
Also called water hen. a common species of gallinule, Gallinule chloropus, of nearly worldwide distribution.
any of several related gallinules.
Chiefly British. the female red grouse.
Origin of moorhen
First recorded in 1250-1300, moorhen is from the Middle English word mor-hen. See moor1, hen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for moorhen
Historical Examples
  • From the sedges came the curious cry of the moorhen; a bright kingfisher went by.

    After London Richard Jefferies
  • The nest and eggs of the Coot are very like those of the common moorhen.

    Egyptian Birds Charles Whymper
  • The moorhen and coot are too inconspicuous as they lurk under the reeds, or swim hurriedly across the open water.

  • There, too, a moorhen goes, sometimes diving under the bough.

    The Hills and the Vale Richard Jefferies
  • Trewhella laughed loudly, and a moorhen waking in sudden panic rose with a shrill cry from a belt of rushes.

    Carnival Compton Mackenzie
  • The nightingales sang, the thrushes flew out before them, the wild duck and moorhen glanced on the pools.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • While we were going by the pond, in the lower meadow, a moorhen scuttled to her nest in the tangle on the bank.

    My Little Sister Elizabeth Robins
  • She decided to go halves, to take two and leave two in the nest to console the moorhen when she came back.

    The Madcap of the School Angela Brazil
  • At the same moment that I startled this brood out of the rushes a moorhen swam slowly out, accompanied by her mate.

    A Cotswold Village J. Arthur Gibbs
  • Occasionally he indulges in wild duck or moorhen; and when he hunts on shore may catch a rabbit unawares, a rat or a vole.

British Dictionary definitions for moorhen


/ˈmʊəˌhɛn; ˈmɔː-/
a bird, Gallinula chloropus, inhabiting ponds, lakes, etc, having a black plumage, red bill, and a red shield above the bill: family Rallidae (rails)
the female of the red grouse
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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