• synonyms


[tahr-mi-guh n]
See more synonyms for ptarmigan on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural ptar·mi·gans, (especially collectively) ptar·mi·gan.
  1. any of several grouses of the genus Lagopus, of mountainous and cold northern regions, having feathered feet.
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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

Historical Examples

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

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for ptarmigan


noun plural -gans or -gan
  1. any of several arctic and subarctic grouse of the genus Lagopus, esp L. mutus, which has a white winter plumage
  2. (sometimes capital) a created domestic fancy pigeon with ruffled or curled feathers on the wings and back
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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

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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper