THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY
The meaning and origin of words and phrases related to
members of the partridge family
Two species of the pheasant family are commonly consumed as game birds:
The pheasant is a common, long-tailed, species of game bird that is native to the Old World. Its name comes from the Anglo-French fesaunt, from the Old French faisant, faisan, itself from the Latin phāsiānus, from the Greek for a pheasant phāsiānós literally ‘of the Phasis’, from the river Phasis (now known as the river Rion in Georgia) that flows into the Black Sea. The Greeks knew the region through which the Phasis flowed as Colchis. Today the pheasant’s Latin name remains Phasianus colchicus meaning ‘the pheasant of Colchis’. The 'f' was changed back to its original 'ph' in English late in the 14th century.
Partridges are another member of the pheasant family. The name of these squat and plump game birds comes from the Old French pertriz, perdriz. The name is ultimately from the Greek pérdīx the name for their Greek partridge and which is thought to be from the word pérdesthai meaning 'to break wind' in a reference to the noise a partridge's wings make when taking off. Perdix has passed down into modern Latin as it is both the genus and species name for the grey partridge.
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