[ moor-hen ]

  1. Also called water hen. a common species of gallinule, Gallinule chloropus, of nearly worldwide distribution.

  2. any of several related gallinules.

  1. 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use moorhen in a sentence

  • At its narrow end it has a small bed of bulrushes, which has been inhabited by a pair of moorhens for several years past.

    Birds in London | W. H. Hudson
  • We have more than once shot moorhens in autumn with spawn dripping from their bills, and the birds themselves gorged with it.

    Poachers and Poaching | John Watson
  • At the sudden movement a pike struck, and two moorhens scuttled out of the water into the grass on the shore.

    After London | Richard Jefferies
  • Just below the shadow of the beech there is a sandy, oozy shore, where the footprints of moorhens are often traceable.

    Nature Near London | Richard Jefferies
  • There is, however, no better plan of teaching them to take to the water than letting them hunt moorhens.

    Sporting Dogs | Frank Townend Barton

British Dictionary definitions for moorhen


/ (ˈmʊəˌhɛn, ˈmɔː-) /

  1. a bird, Gallinula chloropus, inhabiting ponds, lakes, etc, having a black plumage, red bill, and a red shield above the bill: family Rallidae (rails)

  2. 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