What is a “biset”?

“Biset” is an archaic and rarely used term for Columba livia, the Rock Pigeon, in English and French.

The term, though rare in both languages, was more frequently used by French writers than English and typically referred to the wild bird rather than domestic pigeons – which are the same species.

“Biset” typically referred to the wild Rock Dove, which makes its home on cliff faces.

In both languages the word “pigeon” has always been more popular, with “biset” all but dying out in the early 1900s.

The origin of the word “biset” for pigeon is unknown, however possibly comes from the French “bis” for “grey or brown” and the suffix “et” indicating a “small” size.