Definition of ferret in English:

ferret

Line breaks: fer¦ret
Pronunciation: /ˈfɛrɪt
 
/

noun

  • 1A domesticated polecat used chiefly for catching rabbits. It is typically albino in coloration, but sometimes brown. See polecat-ferret.
    • Mustela furo, family Mustelidae; descended mainly from the European polecat
    More example sentences
    • Fishers are among the least understood of the weasel family, or mustelids, which also includes martens, minks, ermines, ferrets, badgers, otters, and wolverines.
    • Europeans arrived in the early 1800s, bringing with them mustelids (stoats, ferrets, and weasels), cats, and two more species of rats.
    • While most of us are all too willing to cuddle guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, pet mice and even ferrets, brown rats produce a reaction of almost universal revulsion.
  • 2An assiduous search for something: he had a quick ferret around
    More example sentences
    • Sam and myself were keen to have a ferret around in Pippikin via Mistral, but Alan was all psyched up to do his first trip down Lancaster Hole.
    • Finding the place almost deserted I had resigned myself to having a ferret around Lancaster Hole on my own, until I bumped into Ray.

verb (ferrets, ferreting, ferreted)

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  • 1 [no object] (Of a person) hunt with ferrets, typically for rabbits: (as noun ferreting) ferreting is increasing in popularity
    More example sentences
    • Their excuse, said Mr Evans, was that they were visiting Cumbria for rabbiting and ferreting - an implausible explanation at a time when people were not allowed on to farmland because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
    • James has kindly offered to induct me into the wiles and ways of the shooting gent, starting with an invitation to go ferreting for rabbits.
  • 1.1 [with object] Clear (a hole or area of ground) of rabbits with ferrets.
    More example sentences
    • I just ferreted this hole as I wanted to find out where all the bolt holes were before I gassed it, and as I had the nets in my pocket I thought ...why not!
    • We ferreted several warrens, and thus several breeding groups, in each capture area.

Derivatives

ferreter

noun
More example sentences
  • When the ferreter slips his charge into the warren and watches it slide into the darkness, his face is full of a tender anxiety and an eager prayer for success.
  • Any ferreter will tell you about the rabbits that have slipped through nets or used undiscovered bolt holes.

ferrety

adjective
More example sentences
  • The main purveyor is the ferrety Draco Malfoy, who brings a particularly Aryan look to his baleful glare and assorted discriminations.
  • Taylor plays him with ferrety frowns and twitchy fingers.
  • The weaselish ferrety damage coincides all too well with Sporkenbobble's plans.

Origin

late Middle English: from Old French fuiret, alteration of fuiron, based on late Latin furo 'thief, ferret', from Latin fur 'thief'.

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