any of several short-tailed, stout-bodied, burrowing rodents, as Cricetus cricetus, of Europe and Asia, having large cheek pouches.

1600–10; < German; compare Old High German hamastro, Old Saxon hamstra weevil

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World English Dictionary
hamster (ˈhæmstə)
any Eurasian burrowing rodent of the tribe Cricetini, such as Mesocricetus auratus (golden hamster), having a stocky body, short tail, and cheek pouches: family Cricetidae. They are popular pets
[C17: from German, from Old High German hamustro, of Slavic origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1607, from Ger. Hamster, from M.H.G. hamastra "hamster," probably from O.C.S. chomestoru "hamster" (the animal is native to S.E. Europe), perhaps a blend of Rus. chomiak and Lith. staras, both meaning "hamster." The older Eng. name for it was German rat.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

hamster definition

1. (From Fairchild) A particularly slick little piece of code that does one thing well; a small, self-contained hack. The image is of a hamster happily spinning its exercise wheel.
2. A tailless mouse; that is, one with an infrared link to a receiver on the machine, as opposed to the conventional cable.
3. (UK) Any item of hardware made by Amstrad, a company famous for its cheap plastic PC-almost-compatibles.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
The high initial investment costs of nuclear power are largely because of the hamster-and-cogs regulatory system.
He was lying in his own excrement and drank from a hamster bottle attached to
  the side of the cage.
Early on, you'll find an obese hamster you'll need to exercise using a boxful
  of toys.
In this particular case, a protein needed by anemia patients was produced in
  hamster ovary cells.
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