nounNorth American informal or dialect
- The long punishing jaws of a borzoi can snatch up small and not-so-small varmints both wild or domestic with lightning speed.
- The biggest pests on the farm are the varmints - voles, gophers, wild turkey and quail.
- It might have come in handy if we ever spotted the Eastern Screech-Owl that disturbed our already suspect outdoor slumber, but the voluble varmint was well-hidden.
- And today we're in the badlands of cowboy capitalism, uncovering what the varmints have done to our retirement savings.
- It is our job to deal with these pesky varmints and stick fines on their windscreens.
- Down on the main street is the Number Ten Saloon where Wild Bill copped a bullet in the back from a hired varmint named Jack McCall.
Mid 16th century: alteration of vermin.
vermilion from Middle English:
The name for this brilliant red colour and pigment goes back to Latin vermis ‘a worm’, source also of vermin (Middle English), and its variant varmint (mid 16th century). The reason for the unlikely connection probably lies in the red colours crimson and carmine (early 18th century), which were originally extracted from the body of the kermes insect. People mistakenly thought that vermilion was also derived from an insect or worm, although its main early source was in fact cinnabar, a bright red mineral.
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