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[siv-it] /ˈsɪv ɪt/
a yellowish, unctuous substance with a strong musklike odor, obtained from a pouch in the genital region of civets and used in perfumery.
any catlike, carnivorous mammal of the subfamily Viverrinae, chiefly of southern Asia and Africa, having a coarse-haired, spotted coat, rounded ears, and a narrow muzzle.
any of various related or similar animals, as the palm civet.
Origin of civet
1525-35; < Middle French civette < Catalan civettaArabic zabād civet perfume; see zibet
Related forms
civetlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for civet
  • Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.
  • With a civet and a fish-net, and with you to pay the rent.
  • These giant civet cats want to come in and scrounge.
  • For example, about a ton of meat from the catlike predator the civet is sold in the country each month.
  • Impalas and zebras graze on the rain-gorged pastures, and a civet scurries away.
  • The sauce on both the properly cooked calf's liver and the civet of duck was too sweet.
  • There is no problem distinguishing the western spotted skunk, also known as the civet.
British Dictionary definitions for civet


any catlike viverrine mammal of the genus Viverra and related genera, of Africa and S Asia, typically having blotched or spotted fur and secreting a powerfully smelling fluid from anal glands
the yellowish fatty secretion of such an animal, used as a fixative in the manufacture of perfumes
the fur of such an animal
short for palm civet
Word Origin
C16: from Old French civette, from Italian zibetto, from Arabic zabād civet perfume
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for civet

1530s, from Middle French civette (15c.), ultimately (with Italian zibetto, Medieval Latin zibethum, Medieval Greek zapetion) via lost intermediate forms from Arabic zabad "civet," said to be related to zabad "foam, froth," zubd "cream."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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