Is "pidgeon" a correct spelling for the grayish fowl scientifically known as Columba livia domestica? Pigeon appears to be the more common spelling, but it looks strange to me.

For comparison, words such as bludgeon, bridge, and midget use the "dg" construct, and words like belligerent and indigenous do not. I supply the following Ngram to save time for anyone who may need to refer to it.

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Additionally, can one predict which way a word with the "idge" sound will be spelled, or is this a case-by-case kind of thing?

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    I think it's General Reference that pigeon is the "correct" spelling. OED actually lists pidgeon as one of the alternate spellings, because it has been used in the past. It's really just a matter of opinion whether one would take that to mean it's still a "valid" spelling today, but frankly I doubt many people would. May 12, 2014 at 21:10
  • Sorry if my comment was confusing. I'd noticed your rep was 101, implying you're an established user somewhere on SE. But I suppose not all SE sites have General Reference as a possible closevote reason, so it might not be obvious to you that the primary purpose of my comment was to explain why I had just closevoted. The general principle on ELU is that since there is no "final authority" on what constitutes a "valid word", many of us don't generally approve of such questions. May 12, 2014 at 22:13
  • @FumbleFingers Thanks. Your explanation made it much clearer. Now I would like to ask, why is "Spelling and punctuation" listed as on-topic in this site's Help and Welcome Center if questions about spelling, such as this one, are not actually on topic? Can you provide an example of a spelling question that is on topic and explain how I strayed from the example, so that I may ask better questions in the future?
    – Rainbolt
    May 12, 2014 at 22:51
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    I may not be able to help you much on those points. Bear in mind I'm only one voice here, and others may not agree with my position. Note that the full OED list includes pegen, pegeon, pegeone, pegion, pegon, peion, peioun, peiun, pejon, pejone, pejoun, pichon, pychon, pygeoun, pygyne, pyion, pyione, pyioun, pyjon, pigon, pegyon, pygeon, pigion, pigeon, pegyn, pichion, pidgin, pigen, pigin, pydgyn, pyggion, pygion, pygon, pygyn, piggen, pidgeon, pidgion, pigeing, piggion, pydgion, pudgen, pigioun, powdȝon, pudȝeoun, pudyean, pigeon... May 12, 2014 at 23:21
  • ...but it's worth noting pidgeon is qualified as (now irreg.). There might be something interesting in the matter of why this particular word has so many variants, but any "simpler" dictionary (or just your own NGram research) will easily establish the current preferred version. Personally, I think this "spelling" question is a better one, but that's just my opinion. May 12, 2014 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


'Pidgeon' is both slang and a word:

BLUE PIDGEON FLIERS, thieves who steal lead off houses and churches, (cant).

MILK THE PIDGEON, to endeavour at impossibilities.

The Pidgeon process used in metallurgy.


This etymological site suggests the term 'Pidgeon''s etymology is unclear but Wikipedia states "Pidgeon is a surname from an archaic spelling of pigeon".

The term Ring-Dove, or a Wood-Pidgeon (Dictionarium Britannicum,Bailey, N. (Nathan), d. 1742) suggests that the pidgeon was the West and East African RingDove or Streptopelia decipiens. -Wild pigeons and doves. . Delacour, Jean, 1890-1985. Your aforementioned Columba livia domestica was derived from the Rock Pigeon

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    The administrators can change the color for links or you could develop protanopia to make your life easier ;-)
    – Third News
    May 12, 2014 at 19:42

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