General English


  • noun a small game bird. There are two main species in Europe: the rare black grouse Lyrurus tetrix and the Scottish red grouse Lagopus scoticus.


  • feminine A small single portion wild game bird which is found on heather moors in Northern Europe, the finest of which is the red grouse found only in the UK and Ireland. The young birds which have downy feathers under their perfectly fledged wings are the best eating. The shooting season in the UK is 12th August to the 10th of December. The birds should be hung for 2 to 4 days before drawing and plucking. Barded and roasted on toast in the roasting pan at 200°C for 40 minutes, or at 230°C for 20 minutes and rested for 10. Garnished with watercress and served with jus rôti, bread sauce, fried breadcrumbs and pommes allumettes.


  • noun (something) excellent, superlative. This use of the word probably derives from the notion of the bird as a delicacy; also used figuratively to denote an attractive woman since the pre-war period.


  • noun a small black game bird, found in the UK, especially in the north of England and in Scotland

Origin & History of “grouse”

English has two words grouse, neither of whose ancestries are adequately documented. It has been speculated that grouse the game-bird (16th c.) originated as the plural of a now lost *grue, which may have come from the medieval Latin bird-name grūta, or from Welsh grugiar, a compound of grug ‘heath’ and iar ‘hen’. Grouse ‘complain’ (19th c.) is first recorded in the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. It seems originally to have been pronounced to rhyme with moose, but in the 20th century has come into line phonetically with grouse the bird. It is not known where it came from.