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

  • noun A weasel (Mustela erminea) native to northern regions, having a black-tipped tail and dark brown fur that in winter changes to white.
  • noun The commercially valuable white fur of this animal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cover with or as with ermine.
  • In heraldry, composed of four ermine spots: said of a cross so formed.
  • noun An Armenian.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In entomology, one of several arctiid moths: so called by English collectors. The buff ermine is Arctia lubricipeda; the water-ermine is A. urticæ.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In heraldry, one of the furs, represented with its peculiar spots black on a while ground (argent, Spots sable).

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

  • transitive verb To clothe with, or as with, ermine.
  • noun (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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun By metonymy, the office or functions of a judge, whose state robe, lined with ermine, is emblematical of purity and honor without stain.
  • noun (Her.) One of the furs. See Fur (Her.)
  • noun (Zoöl.) a white moth with black spots (esp. Yponomeuta padella of Europe); -- so called on account of the resemblance of its covering to the fur of the ermine; also applied to certain white bombycid moths of America.

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

  • noun A weasel, Mustela erminea, found in northern latitudes; its dark brown fur turns white in winter (apart from the black tip of the tail)
  • noun The white fur of this animal
  • noun poetic A symbol of purity
  • noun figuratively The office of a judge
  • noun heraldry A white field with black spots
  • verb To clothe with ermine

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

  • noun the expensive white fur of the ermine
  • noun mustelid of northern hemisphere in its white winter coat


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

[Middle English ermin, from Old French ermine, possibly of Germanic origin or from Medieval Latin (mūs) Armenius, Armenian (mouse).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word ermine.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • An animal of the weasel tribe (Mustela Erminea), an inhabitant of northern countries, called in England a stoat, whose fur is reddish brown in summer, but in winter (in northern regions) wholly white, except the tip of the tail, which is always black.

    Also, a heraldic fur; white marked with black spots of a particular shape.

    February 5, 2007

  • I love it! Who did that?

    May 26, 2010

  • Thanks! I prefer the reversal.

    May 26, 2010