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  • enPR: fĕr'ət, IPA(key): /ˈfɛɹɪt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛrɪt

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English furet, ferret, from Old French furet, from Vulgar Latin *furittum (weasel, ferret), diminutive of Latin fūr (thief).


ferret (plural ferrets)

  1. An often domesticated mammal (Mustela putorius furo) rather like a weasel, descended from the polecat and often trained to hunt burrowing animals.
  2. The black-footed ferret, Mustela nigripes.
  3. A diligent searcher.
    • 1998 July 2, Charles Nicholl, "Screaming in the Castle" in the London Review of Books, Vol. XX, No. 13:
      The most challenging documentary discoveries were made by a tenacious archival ferret, Dr Antonio Bertoletti. In 1879 he published his findings in a slim, refreshingly dry volume, Francesco Cenci e la sua Famiglia.


ferret (third-person singular simple present ferrets, present participle ferreting, simple past and past participle ferreted)

  1. To hunt game with ferrets.
  2. (transitive, intransitive) To uncover and bring to light by searching; usually to ferret out.
    • William Shakespeare
      Master Fer! I'll fer him, and firk him, and ferret him.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
      I confess that we were so unpopular with the outrageous mob, that I only got away from England at the risk of being ducked to death, and that Cly was so ferreted up and down, that he never would have got away at all but for that sham.
    • 1842, Edgar Alan Poe, The Mistery of Marie Roget
      He had been piqued by the failure of all his endeavors to ferret out the assassins.
    • 1922, Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room Chapter 1
      She ferreted in her bag; then held it up mouth downwards; then fumbled in her lap, all so vigorously that Charles Steele in the Panama hat suspended his paint-brush.


Etymology 2Edit

Italian fioretto



  1. (dated) A tape of silk, cotton, or ribbon, used to tie documents, clothing, etc. or along the edge of fabric.
    • Charles Dickens, Bleak House
      red tape and green ferret




From fer +‎ -et.



ferret m (plural ferrets)

  1. (metal) tag; aglet, aiguillette

Further readingEdit