Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CAPERCAILZIE, Capperkailzie, Caperkylie, Caper coille, Caper keily, Caperkellie, Capercaillie, n. The wood-grouse, Tetrao urogallus, the male being sometimes also called the Great Cock of the Woods, or Mountain Cock. “Formerly indigenous in the Scottish Highlands, where, after having become extinct, it has again been introduced from Scandinavia” (N.E.D.), and is still to be seen, though rare. Also simply caper. Entered in Un. and Concise Eng. Dicts. as found in Scot. [′kɑpər′kel(j)i, ′kɑpər′kelzi, ′kɑpər′kəil(j)i, also ′kepər-]Sc. 1760 R. Pococke Tours in Scot. (1887) 110:
In the Mountain towards Fort Augustus they have found the Caper Keily (Cock of the Wood). They are now very rare. I saw the skin of one stuffed, they are about the size of a Turkey, the head like a Grouse or Moor Fowl, entirely black, except that the Belly is spotted with White, and it is white under the Wings.
Sc. 1920 J. Ritchie Animal Life in Scot. VI. iii.:
Bishop Jhone Leslie [in 1578] . . . shows clearly that the range of the Caper was limited.
Sc. 1993 Independent 2 Dec 19:
''Oh, look, in the garden - it's a pheasant, no a grouse, or do I mean a ptarmigan or capercailzie, if that is how it is pronounced . . .'' By the time anyone else has come to have a look the country magazine cover bird will have vanished again.
Sc. 1997 Herald 25 Aug 20:
On game management, the study says: "Fox predation was found to have no significant effect on capercailzie breeding performance while crow predation was significant."
Sc. 2004 Herald 2 Oct 28:
Capercailzie now get special protection during the breeding season, and there are further measures, including fines of up to £40,000, to tackle economic and environmental damage caused by non-native species.
Inv. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XX. 307:
The caper coille, or wild turkey, was seen in Glenmoriston, and in the neighbouring district of Strathglass, about 40 years ago, and it is not known that this bird has appeared since, or that it now exists in Britain.
Mry. 1775 L. Shaw Hist. Prov. Moray 161:
The harmless Wild Fowls are, the Swan, Caperkylie, (called also the Cock of the wood).
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 69:
The lee-lang day, a squalloch o spurgies, a yammer o yities, a caain o corbies an a craikin o capercailzie chimed in wi a cheepin o mavis, merle and blackie tae gledden the braes wi music.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 13:
When all but the evergreens are leafless, and the cold air creeps on the pine branch, it hums to the sound of the capercaillie.
Per. 1746 T. L. K. Oliphant Jacobite Lairds of Gask (1870) 213:
Caperkellies are frequently sold in mercat.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 50:
That late, darkling afternoon he contented himself with taking a plump and lustred caper-caillie that he surprised from a thicket into flight.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 257:
I could tell you a fearsome story o' the days o' langsyne, the days when the capercailzie had his howff in Eglinton.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales Wars of Montrose II. 3:
Here also the king of game, the great cock-of-the-wood, or capperkailzie, was to be found in every copse.

Used fig. for an empty-headed, stupid person.Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 20:
Man, Ian, ye're a muckle capercailzie wi' a heid fu' o' preenacks.

[O.Sc. capercailȝe, -calȝe, -caley (D.O.S.T.). Prob. a corruption of Gael. capal-coille, the great cock of the wood (MacLennan), from capull, a horse (for horse as used to indicate largeness, cf. horse-radish), and coille, wood; the so-called l mouillé of the second element was reg. represented in older Sc. writing by lz, and the present pronunciation with [z] has arisen from the written word.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Capercailzie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: