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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TARMAGAN, n. Also tarmagen, -migan; termagan (Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XII. 322); tarmagant (Kcb. Ib. IV. 263); ptarmachan (Ags. Ib. VIII. 423), tarmachan, -in; ¶tarmack (Ags. Ib. X. 570); tormican. The mountain-grouse, the ptarmigan, Lagopus mutus. Gen.Sc. See etym. note. [′tɑrməgən]Nai. 1722 Thanes of Cawdor (S.C.) 426:
Moorfowl and tarmachans from Badenoch and Strathspey.
Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 155:
The tormican is near about the size of the moor-fowl (or grouse), but of a lighter colour, which turns almost white in winter.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 372:
Tarmagans, dotterels, and plovers, are on the tops of the mountains.
Sc. a.1800 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw 1843) 210:
I'll hunt the roe, the hart, the doe, The tarmigan sae shy, lassie.

[O.Sc. termigan, 1599, Gael. tàrmachan, id. The word was estabhshed in Eng. through the naturalist Pennant borrowing the name from Sir R. Sibbald's Scotia Illustrata (1684) in the form ptarmigan, spelt as if derived from Gr. πτερον, a feather.]

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"Tarmagan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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