follow Dictionary.com

What is the X in X-mas?

ferret1

[fer-it] /ˈfɛr ɪt/
noun
1.
a domesticated, usually red-eyed, and albinic variety of the polecat, used in Europe for driving rabbits and rats from their burrows.
verb (used with object)
3.
to drive out by using or as if using a ferret (often followed by out):
to ferret rabbits from their burrows; to ferret out enemies.
4.
to hunt with ferrets.
5.
to hunt over with ferrets:
to ferret a field.
6.
to search out, discover, or bring to light (often followed by out):
to ferret out the facts.
7.
to harry, worry, or torment:
His problems ferreted him day and night.
verb (used without object)
8.
to search about.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English fer(r)et(te), fyret, furet < Middle French furet < Vulgar Latin *furittus, equivalent to fūr thief (< Latin) + -ittus -et
Related forms
ferreter, noun
ferrety, adjective
unferreted, adjective
unferreting, adjective

ferret2

[fer-it] /ˈfɛr ɪt/
noun
1.
a narrow tape or ribbon, as of silk or cotton, used for binding, trimming, etc.
Origin
1570-80; alteration of Italian fioretto floss silk, literally, little flower, equivalent to fior(e) (< Latin flōrem; see flower) + -etto -et
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for ferret
  • Those are the kinds of areas of risk that auditors are trained to ferret out.
  • It will ferret through the mound of management literature that arrives on my desk everyday for buried nuggets.
  • The same place that gave the world the atomic bomb has now found a way to ferret out illicit nuclear material.
  • The purpose is to ferret out militants and break the morale of their supporters.
  • His efforts to ferret out the plotting he knows is afoot but can't foil make for hilarious skylarking.
  • Today's voters probably never had to lie to schoolteachers trying to ferret out damaging information about their families.
  • They exploit proxy servers, deploy encryption technology, and ferret out holes in the wall.
  • For the former group, polarimeters would be used to ferret out cheats.
British Dictionary definitions for ferret

ferret1

/ˈfɛrɪt/
noun
1.
a domesticated albino variety of the polecat Mustela putorius, bred for hunting rats, rabbits, etc
2.
an assiduous searcher
3.
black-footed ferret, a musteline mammal, Mustela nigripes, of W North America, closely related to the weasels
verb -rets, -reting, -reted
4.
to hunt (rabbits, rats, etc) with ferrets
5.
(transitive) usually foll by out. to drive from hiding: to ferret out snipers
6.
(transitive) usually foll by out. to find by persistent investigation
7.
(intransitive) to search around
Derived Forms
ferreter, noun
ferrety, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French furet, from Latin fur thief

ferret2

/ˈfɛrɪt/
noun
1.
silk binding tape
Word Origin
C16: from Italian fioretti floss silk, plural of fioretto: a little flower, from fiore flower, from Latin flōs
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for ferret
n.

late 14c., from Old French furet, diminutive of fuiron "weasel, ferret," literally "thief," probably from Late Latin furionem (related to furonem "cat," also "robber"), from Latin fur (genitive furis) "thief."

v.

early 15c., from ferret (n.), in reference to the use of half-tame ferrets to kill rats and flush rabbits from burrows; the extended sense of "search out, discover" is 1570s. Related: Ferreted; ferreting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for ferret

ferret

verb

To search inquisitively; find by searching: ferret out the whole story

[1570+; fr the notion of the ferret as a restless and assiduous searcher]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
ferret in the Bible

Lev. 11:30 (R.V., "gecko"), one of the unclean creeping things. It was perhaps the Lacerta gecko which was intended by the Hebrew word (anakah, a cry, "mourning," the creature which groans) here used, i.e., the "fan-footed" lizard, the gecko which makes a mournful wail. The LXX. translate it by a word meaning "shrew-mouse," of which there are three species in Palestine. The Rabbinical writers regard it as the hedgehog. The translation of the Revised Version is to be preferred.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for ferret

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for ferret

9
9
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with ferret

Nearby words for ferret