Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An artificial albinotic variety of the fitch or polecat, Putorius vulgaris or fœtidus, said to be of African origin, about 14 inches long, of a whitish or pale-yellowish color, with red or pink eyes, bred in confinement in Europe and America to kill rats, rabbits, and other vermin or small game living in holes, into which its lithe, slender, and sinuous body readily enters.
  • noun In glass-manuf, the iron used to try the melted matter to see if it is fit to work, and to make the rings at the mouths of bottles.
  • noun Originally, a silk tape or narrow ribbon used for fastening or lacing; now, a narrow worsted or cotton ribbon used for binding, for shoestrings, etc., and also, when dyed in bright colors, for cockades, rosettes, etc.
  • To drive out of a lurking-place, as a ferret does the rabbit.
  • Hence Figuratively, to search out by perseverance and cunning: commonly followed by out: as, to ferret out a secret.
  • To search (a place).
  • To worry, as a ferret does his prey.
  • To hunt with ferrets: as, to ferret rats with trained ferrets.

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

  • noun (Glass Making) The iron used for trying the melted glass to see if is fit to work, and for shaping the rings at the mouths of bottles.
  • noun (Zoöl.) An animal of the Weasel family (Mustela furo syn. Putorius furo), about fourteen inches in length, of a pale yellow or white color, with red eyes. It is a native of Africa, but has been domesticated in Europe. Ferrets are used to drive rabbits and rats out of their holes. They are sometimes kept as pets.
  • transitive verb To drive or hunt out of a lurking place, as a ferret does the cony; to search out by patient and sagacious efforts; -- often used with out.
  • noun A kind of narrow tape, usually made of woolen; sometimes of cotton or silk; -- called also ferreting.

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

  • noun An often domesticated mammal rather like a weasel, descended from the polecat and often trained to hunt burrowing animals.
  • noun The black-footed ferret, Mustela nigripes.
  • noun An diligent searcher.
  • verb To hunt game with ferrets.
  • verb To uncover and bring to light by searching; usually to ferret out.

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

  • verb search and discover through persistent investigation
  • verb hound or harry relentlessly
  • noun domesticated albino variety of the European polecat bred for hunting rats and rabbits
  • noun musteline mammal of prairie regions of United States; nearly extinct
  • verb hunt with ferrets

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English furet, ferret, from Anglo-Norman firet, furet, diminutive of Old French fuiron ("weasel, ferret"), from Late Latin furo ("cat; robber"), diminutive of Latin fur ("thief").

Examples

Comments

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  • Cricket jargon - an extremely poor batsman, so termed because he goes in after the rabbits.

    December 1, 2007

  • "There was a moment of silence on the walkie-talkie.

    'The caller is still on the line, sir.'

    Olivetti looked like he'd just been electrocuted. 'The line is still open?'

    'Yes, sir. We've been trying to trace him for ten minutes, getting nothing but splayed ferretting.'"

    - 'Angels And Demons', Dan Brown.

    February 26, 2008

  • Parcel bare ferret up mock computer-referable crap.

    October 18, 2008

  • "I have no feelings about ferrets."

    September 9, 2009

  • I didn't know this in the sense of "A narrow piece of tape used to bind or edge fabric" until this:

    "If you remember, in the eye of the law fairy fruit was regarded as woven silk, and many days were wasted in a learned discussion of the various characteristics of gold tissues, stick tuftaffities, figured satins, wrought grograines, silk mohair and ferret ribbons."

    Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, p 113 of the Cold Spring Press paperback

    December 6, 2016

  • It would be hard to ferret out anything to protest in these pages.

    transitive v. To uncover and bring to light by searching. Often used with out: "Their work merely points the way for others to ferret out the core components of all proteins” ( Natalie Angier).

    January 18, 2018