Definition of ferret in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɛrɪt/


1A domesticated polecat used chiefly for catching rabbits. It is typically albino in coloration, but sometimes brown. See polecat-ferret.
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)

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.
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.
2 [no object] Rummage about in a place or container in search of something: he shambled over to the desk and ferreted around
More example sentences
  • I looked down at the little ashtray on his gold coloured hostess trolley, two lonely pound coins looked back up at me, so i ferreted around in my pocket for something smaller.
  • But one night, a woolly-hatted youth ferreted around in the skip and extracted the ancient rucksack.
  • Katherine and Kyla ferreted around the racks looking for good clothes.
rummage, search about, scrabble around, feel around, grope around, forage around, fish about/around, poke about/around, scratch about/around, delve, dig, hunt;
search through, hunt through, rifle through, sift through, go through, scour, ransack, explore
British informal rootle around
Australian/New Zealand informal fossick through
rare roust around
2.1 [with object] (ferret something out) Discover information by means of an assiduous search or investigation: she had the ability to ferret out the facts
More example sentences
  • Even if you don't like the story, you have to respect his sheer investigative skill in ferreting it out.
  • But Sid wasn't really the type that offered up information easily, preferring to have his barmates ferret it out of him.
  • If there's a story that has any connection with the Super Bowl, it will be ferreted out by 3,000 newspaper, radio and TV people.
unearth, uncover, discover, detect, search out, elicit, bring to light, bring into the open, reveal, get at, run to earth, track down, turn up, dig up, dig out, root out, hunt out, fish out, nose out, sniff out
informal get wind of, get wise to, rumble
rare uncloak



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.


Pronunciation: /ˈfɛrɪti/
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.


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

  • Latin fur ‘thief’ is the root of ferret, which entered English from Old French fuiret. Ferrets are known for stealing birds' eggs, and this was probably why they got their name.

Words that rhyme with ferret

inherit, merit

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fer¦ret

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