(Science: ornithology) One of several wading birds, having long, webless toes, and a frontal shield, belonging to the family Rallidae. They are remarkable for running rapidly over marshes and on floating plants. The purple gallinule of America is Ionornis Martinica, that of the old world is Porphyrio porphyrio. The common European gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) is also called moor hen, water hen, water rail, moor coot, night bird, and erroneously dabchick. Closely related to it is the Florida gallinule (Gallinula galeata).