- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for ptarmigan
He knew clearly what was to be done, and this he did by promptly eating the ptarmigan.White Fang
Could not a single gull or ptarmigan find a resting-place there?
Among birds, the ptarmigan is a fine example of protective colouring.
Around us we saw plenty of ptarmigan tracks, but no signs of foxes.A Woman who went to Alaska
May Kellogg Sullivan
That is what grown-up foxes do to the Ptarmigan folks when they get a chance.Little White Fox and his Arctic Friends
Roy J. Snell
- 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
C16: changed (perhaps influenced by Greek pteron wing) from Scottish Gaelic tarmachan, diminutive of tarmach, of obscure origin
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