Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chiefly British A common, widely distributed species of gallinule, Gallinula chloropus.
  • n. Chiefly British The female red grouse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various medium-sized water birds of the genus Gallinula, of the rail family, that feed in open water margins.
  • n. A female red grouse, Lagopus lagopus scotica.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An Australian rail (Tribonyx ventralis).
  • n. A black gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) that inhabits ponds and lakes.
  • n. The female of the moor fowl; the moor hen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The female moorfowl.
  • n. The common British gallinule or water-hen, Gallinula chloropus. Also moor-coot.
  • n. The American coot.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. black gallinule that inhabits ponds and lakes
  • n. female red grouse

Etymologies

moor2 + hen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From moor +‎ hen (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • New Mexico: Non-toxic ammunition required for common moorhen; sora, a freshwater marsh bird; Virginia rail and snipe with shotguns, as well as dove, band-tailed pigeon, upland game or migratory game birds on all State Game Commission owned or managed areas.

    Iowa in middle of lead-shot skirmish

  • A tiny rill meandered beneath a stone slab and as I crossed this a lurking moorhen was startled into headlong escape downstream, soon hidden beneath a golden tangle of overhanging gorse.

    Country diary: North Derbyshire

  • I've woken at dawn to a sleeping village, nursed a mug of coffee in the chill of the open cockpit, watched a moorhen scutter across the smoking water, heard church bells chime the hour and felt—as it's so easy to do on the canals—at one with England.

    The Best Way Through England Is Wet

  • ‘Moorhen of Dharma’: Dharma can be difficult to contemplate when in pain; the moorhen, or ‘skitty coot,’ is a ridiculous-looking, weak bird.

    The Best American Poetry 2010

  • But the birds were there -- purple moorhen, jacanas and teals.

    Birds of Baikka Beel (Sylhet Division)

  • Nor is Dodds above making pop-culture quips: “But it always comes out like a Gilbert-without-/Sullivan song” or refiguring common proverbs: “But the moorhen is two birds killed/with one act of kindness.”

    Chris Hutchinson on Jeramy Dodds

  • But the moorhen is two birds killed with one act of kindness.

    Chris Hutchinson on Jeramy Dodds

  • In the last line of the last stanza, the return of the moorhen seems to ask the reader to construe the entire poem in terms of this eponymous bird.

    Chris Hutchinson on Jeramy Dodds

  • Poor moorhen: there is an implied violence in the meaning and, at the same time, a delicious cruelty to the meaning.

    Chris Hutchinson on Jeramy Dodds

  • If I hear the alarm call of a blackbird or moorhen in my garden, I understand it perfectly.

    Wildwood

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