One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large Eurasian and North American merganser (diving duck), the male of which has a dark green head and whitish underside.
- ‘There are birds in the garden that are rarely seen in London, such as the common sandpiper, sedge warbler and lesser whitethroat, with smew and goosander on the lake in winter.’
- ‘The estate is home to a variety of bird life, from breeding common terns, nightingales and tufted ducks to vast numbers of wintering birds, such as wigeon, smew and goosander.’
- ‘As it grows in the river from an egg, it's bothered by brown trout, preyed on by goosanders (ducks with serrated bills) and cormorants as well as mergansers (another type of salmon-persecuting duck).’
- ‘Other species found included goosander, pochard, tufted duck and teal on the water.’
- ‘They are preyed on by herons, cormorants, kingfishers, goosanders, large trout and eels.’
Early 17th century: probably from goose + -ander as in dialect bergander ‘shelduck’ (the colouring of the male goosander resembling that of the shelduck).
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