from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various catlike mammals of the family Viverridae of Africa and Asia, having anal scent glands that secrete a fluid with a musky odor.
  • noun The thick yellowish musky fluid secreted by one of these mammals, used in the manufacture of perfumes.
  • noun The fur of one of these mammals.
  • noun The palm civet of Africa.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The secretion of the anal glands of the civet-cats, used in perfumery, etc.
  • noun The civet-cat.
  • noun plural The animals of the genus Viverra or family Viverridæ.
  • noun A stew, usually of rabbit or hare, flavored with onion, cives, garlic, or the like.
  • To scent with civet; perfume.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To scent or perfume with civet.
  • noun A substance, of the consistence of butter or honey, taken from glands in the anal pouch of the civet (Viverra civetta). It is of clear yellowish or brownish color, of a strong, musky odor, offensive when undiluted, but agreeable when a small portion is mixed with another substance. It is used as a perfume.
  • noun (Zoöl) The animal that produces civet (Viverra civetta); -- called also civet cat. It is carnivorous, from two to three feet long, and of a brownish gray color, with transverse black bands and spots on the body and tail. It is a native of northern Africa and of Asia. The name is also applied to other species.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A carnivorous catlike animal that produces a musky secretion. It is two to three feet long, with black bands and spots on the body and tail.
  • noun The musky perfume produced by the animal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun cat-like mammal typically secreting musk used in perfumes


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French civette, from Old French, from Catalan civetta, from Medieval Latin zibethus, from Arabic zabād, civet perfume.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French civette, from Arabic زباد.


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  • See also crappuccino, or crappucino, because I can never spell it right and I'm too lazy to check. I think the first spelling is "correct," but all the comments/conversations dealing with palm civets are on crappucino.

    August 25, 2008

  • Illustration here.

    August 26, 2008

  • "When leaving the bath, they anoint the head with ajonjoli _i. e._, oil of sesame mixed with civet -- of which, as we shall later show, there is great abundance in those regions."

    The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 — Volume 12 of 55 1601-1604 Explorations by Early Navigators, Descriptions of the Islands and Their Peoples, Their History and Records of the Catholic Missions, as Related in Contemporaneous Books and Manuscripts, Showing the Political, Economic, Commercial and Religious Conditions of Those Islands from Their Earliest Relations with European Nations to the Close of the Nineteenth Century (one of the examples on ajonjoli).

    August 31, 2010

  • Compare zibet.

    June 27, 2017

  • Usage/historical note in comment on ambergris.

    October 9, 2017