Definition of lemming in English:

lemming

Syllabification: lem·ming
Pronunciation: /ˈlemiNG
 
/

noun

1A small, short-tailed, thickset rodent related to the voles, found in the Arctic tundra.
  • Lemmus, Dicrostonyx, and other genera, family Muridae: several species, in particular the Norway lemming (L. lemmus), noted for its fluctuating populations and periodic mass migrations, which in popular belief sometimes culminate in the animals jumping off cliffs into the sea
More example sentences
  • If there are no seals to hunt, they will eat small whales, lemmings, and even geese.
  • Two species of lemmings are the only other herbivores that occur in significant numbers on the island.
  • Researchers are also studying Arctic foxes, lemmings, snowy owls and vegetation.
1.1A person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, especially a headlong rush to destruction: the flailings of the lemmings on Wall Street
More example sentences
  • In the last week I have received 3 calls from telemarketers and 5 pieces of individually addressed junk mails offering me the chance to join the financial lemmings as they go over the cliff that is inner-city investment property.
  • It is inexplicable that these women find optimism amid calamity when like lemmings our young rush to enlist in the politics of cynicism amid relative fortune.
  • The rest can only hide in their holes, or like lemmings rush to disaster en masse.

Origin

early 18th century: from Norwegian and Danish; related to Old Norse lómundr.

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