partridge (n.)

"type of four-toed Eurasian bird," c. 1300, partrich (late 12c. as a surname, Ailwardus Pertiz), from Old French pertis, alteration of perdis (perhaps influenced by fem. suffix -tris), from Latin perdicem (nominative perdix) "plover, lapwing," from Greek perdix, the Greek partridge, a name probably related to perdesthai "to break wind," in reference to the whirring noise of the bird's wings, from PIE imitative base *perd- "to break wind" (source also of Sanskrit pardate "breaks wind," Lithuanian perdžiu, persti, Russian perdet, Old High German ferzan, Old Norse freta, Middle English farten).

At first the word had many variant spellings; the forms in -g- emerge by mid-15c. The name was applied to similar but unrelated species in the Americas from 1630s.

updated on February 10, 2020