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[ur-min] /ˈɜr mɪn/
noun, plural ermines (especially collectively) ermine.
an Old World weasel, Mustela erminea, having in its winter color phase a white coat with black at the tip of the tail.
Compare stoat.
any of various weasels having a white winter coat.
the lustrous, white, winter fur of the ermine, often having fur from the animal's black tail tip inserted at intervals for contrast.
the rank, position, or status of a king, peer, or judge, especially one in certain European countries who wears, or formerly wore, a robe trimmed with ermine, as on official or state occasions.
Heraldry. a fur, consisting of a conventional representation of tails, often with a pattern of dots, sable on argent.
made of, covered, or adorned with ermine.
Origin of ermine
1150-1200; Middle English < Old French (h)ermine, noun use of feminine of (h)ermin (masculine adj.) < Latin Armenius, short for Armenius (mūs) Armenian (rat)
Related forms
ermined, adjective
unermined, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ermine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He went home with the Colonel and his wife; he has quite lost his heart to ermine.

    The Clever Woman of the Family Charlotte M. Yonge
  • And, over all, there hung in graceful folds an ermine robe of spotless white.

    The Fiery Totem Argyll Saxby
  • As a worm through a wardrobe, that man ate through velvet and ermine, and gnawed out the hearts that beat in his way.

    Lucretia, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Papa's models are all in horse-hair wigs,—fat mummies in ermine!

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • The wolf rose to its feet with a snap as the half-breed and ermine approached, curling their lariats.

    John Ermine of the Yellowstone Frederic Remington
  • From hunted sense of unmerited outlawry I have passed to that of 'ermine' function.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • "She is not a strong-minded woman, she only has been made to believe herself one," said ermine, warmly.

    The Clever Woman of the Family Charlotte M. Yonge
British Dictionary definitions for ermine


noun (pl) -mines, -mine
the stoat in northern regions, where it has a white winter coat with a black-tipped tail
the fur of this animal
one of the two principal furs used on heraldic shields, conventionally represented by a white field flecked with black ermine tails Compare vair
the dignity or office of a judge, noble, or king
short for ermine moth
Word Origin
C12: from Old French hermine, from Medieval Latin Armenius (mūs) Armenian (mouse)
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 ermine

late 12c., from Old French ermine (12c., Modern French hermine), both the animal and the fur, apparently from a convergence of Latin (mus) Armenius "Armenian (mouse)," ermines being abundant in Asia Minor; and an unrelated Germanic word for "weasel" (cf. Old High German harmo "ermine, stoat, weasel," adj. harmin; Old Saxon harmo, Old English hearma "shrew," etc.) that happened to sound like it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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