American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A weasel (Mustela erminea) of northern regions, having a black-tipped tail and dark brown fur that in winter changes to white.
- n. The commercially valuable white fur of this animal.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The stoat, Putorius erminea, a small, slender, short-legged carnivorous quadruped of the weasel family, Mustelidæ, and order Feræ, found throughout the northerly and cold temperate parts of the northern hemisphere. The term is specially applied to the condition of the animal when it is white with a black tip to the tail, a change from the ordinary reddish-brown color, occurring in winter in most latitudes inhabited by the animal. The ermine is a near relative of the weasel, the ferret, and the European polecat, all of which belong to the same genus. There are several allied species or varieties of the stoat which turn white in winter and yield a fur known as ermine. The ermine fur of commerce is chiefly obtained from northern Europe, Siberia, and British America, and is in great request. See
- n. In entomology, one of several arctiid moths: so called by English collectors. The buff ermine is Arctia lubricipeda; the water-ermine is A. urticæ.
- n. The fur of the ermine, especially as prepared for ornamental purposes, by having the black of the tail inserted at regular intervals so that it contrasts with the pure white of the fur. The fur, with or without the black spots, is used for lining and facing certain official and ceremonial garments, especially, in England, the robes of judges.
- n. Hence The office or dignity of a judge, and especially the perfect rectitude and fairness of mind essential to the judge's office: as, he kept his ermine unspotted.
- n. In heraldry, one of the furs, represented with its peculiar spots black on a while ground (argent, Spots sable). The black spots are indeterminate in number. In some cases a single spot suffices for one surface: thus, in a mantling ermine the dags have each one spot in the middle. Abbreviated er.
- To cover with or as with ermine.
- n. An Armenian.
- In heraldry, composed of four ermine spots: said of a cross so formed. This cross is always sable on a field argent, and this need not be mentioned in the blazon; it is also blazoned four ermine spots in cross.
- n. A weasel, Mustela erminea, found in northern latitudes; its dark brown fur turns white in winter (apart from the black tip of the tail)
- n. The white fur of this animal
- n. poetic A symbol of purity
- n. figuratively The office of a judge
- n. heraldry A white field with black spots
- v. To clothe with ermine
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Zoöl.) A valuable fur-bearing animal of the genus Mustela (M. erminea), allied to the weasel; the stoat. It is found in the northern parts of Asia, Europe, and America. In summer it is brown, but in winter it becomes white, except the tip of the tail, which is always black.
- n. The fur of the ermine, as prepared for ornamenting garments of royalty, etc., by having the tips of the tails, which are black, arranged at regular intervals throughout the white.
- n. By metonymy, the office or functions of a judge, whose state robe, lined with ermine, is emblematical of purity and honor without stain.
- n. (Her.) One of the furs. See Fur (Her.)
- v. To clothe with, or as with, ermine.
- n. the expensive white fur of the ermine
- n. mustelid of northern hemisphere in its white winter coat
- From Middle English ermine, ermin, ermyn, from Old French ermin, ermine, hermine, from Old Dutch *harmino ‘stoat skin’, from *harmo ‘stoat, weasel’ (compare Dutch dialectal herm), from Proto-Germanic *harmōn (compare Old English hearma, Old High German harmo (adj. harmin, obsolete German Harm), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱormon (compare Romansch carmun, obsolete Lithuanian šarmuõ). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English ermin, from Old French ermine, possibly of Germanic origin or from Medieval Latin (mūs) Armenius, Armenian (mouse). (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“I doubt you'll see me in ermine, I have no desire to be the Scarlet Jim Purnell .”
“Comrade Turnbull had been banished to a labour camp known as the "House of Lords," where harsh and brutal metaphors are believed to be used, and where inmates, clad only in ermine, are forced to live on a diet of venison and claret.”
“During said ceremony, Moon and his wife are wrapped in ermine robes and crowned by an Illinois Congressman.”
“When we think of the King at home we do not picture him in ermine robes, wearing a crown; we think of him as one of ourselves, as a man who might have been just a king, but who prefers to be an Englishman.”
“No greater contrast is possible than to go from a city under the sway of a proletarian dictatorship to a royal city where a king sits in ermine on an ancient throne.”
“This practice is still continued with regard to the ermine, which is spotted with black lamb's-skin.”
“The white fur of the weasel (sometimes called the ermine) is used to make some of the most beautiful and expensive stoles that elegant and wealthy ladies wear.”
“The naturalists recount that the ermine is a little beast that hath a most white skin; and that, when the hunters would chase him, they use this art to take him.”
“There's more gold on her long pink skirt, and her yellow top is trimmed with ermine, which is "the most expensive cloth you can wear," Jaffe explains.”
“I know no apter symbol of tender sensibility of honour as portrayed by Calderon, than the fable of the ermine, which is said to prize so highly the whiteness of its fur, that rather than stain it in flight, it at once yields itself up to the hunters and death.”
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