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

  • n. A large aquatic rodent (Ondatra zibethica) of North America, related to the lemming and the vole and having a dense brown coat and musk glands under a broad flat tail. Also called musquash, water rat.
  • n. The fur of this rodent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large aquatic rodent; Ondatra zibethicus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A North American aquatic fur-bearing rodent (Ondatra zibethica formerly Fiber zibethicus). It resembles a rat in color and having a long scaly tail, but the tail is compressed, the hind feet are webbed, and the ears are concealed in the fur. It has scent glands which secrete a substance having a strong odor of musk. Called also musquash, musk beaver, ondatra, and sometimes water rat.
  • n. The musk shrew.
  • n. The desman.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large murine rodent quadruped, Fiber zibethicus, of the family Muridœ and subfamily Arvicolinœ: so called from its musky odor.
  • n. An insectivorous animal of musky odor likened to a rat, such as the European desman, Mygale pyrenaica, and the Indian musk-shrew or rat-tailed shrew, Sorex indicus or Crocidura myosura, also called Indian muskrat and monjourou.
  • n. A viverrine quadruped, the South African genet, Genetta felina.

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

  • n. the brown fur of a muskrat
  • n. beaver-like aquatic rodent of North America with dark glossy brown fur


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Perhaps so called for its musky odour and because it resembles a rat, or perhaps called by an Algonquian name like the Abenaki moskwas, with the spelling altered under the influence of the English words musk and rat.



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  • A large semiaquatic rodent, Ondatra zibethicus (family Muridae), with a laterally flattened tail, found in lakes, rivers, and wetlands throughout much of North America and (as naturalized populations) in Europe and Asia, and highly valued for its fur. Also called musquash.

    The muskrat has perineal glands that produce a musky secretion.

    February 5, 2007