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[muhsk-rat] /ˈmʌskˌræt/
noun, plural muskrats (especially collectively) muskrat.
a large, aquatic, North American rodent, Ondatra zibethica, having a musky odor.
its thick, light-brown fur, used for coats, for hats, as a trimming, etc.
Origin of muskrat
1680-90, Americanism; alteration, by folk etymology, of musquash Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for muskrat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The muskrat is adrift, but not homeless; his range is vastly extended, and he evidently rejoices in full streams.

    A Year in the Fields John Burroughs
  • But water does not wet the muskrat; his fur is charmed, and not a drop penetrates it.

  • He knew that the muskrat could not stay for ever down in that muddy crevice.

    The Watchers of the Trails Charles G. D. Roberts
  • Once a splash in the shadows set his nerves quivering, but it was only a muskrat.

    A Young Man in a Hurry Robert W. Chambers
  • Here a fox had crossed, there a rabbit or a squirrel or a muskrat.

    Riverby John Burroughs
  • "I show you how to skin him, if you want," she suggested, pointing to the other muskrat.

    The Huntress Hulbert Footner
  • Look up the muskrat and compare his ways with those of the beaver.

  • The muskrat—is the most interesting of all animals that live in water.

    Black Beaver James Campbell Lewis
  • The entrails of muskrat, rabbit, chicken or duck will make far better bait than the animal or bird itself.

    Steel Traps A. R. (Arthur Robert) Harding
British Dictionary definitions for muskrat


noun (pl) -rats, -rat
a North American beaver-like amphibious rodent, Ondatra zibethica, closely related to but larger than the voles: family Cricetidae
the brown fur of this animal
either of two closely related rodents, Ondatra obscurus or Neofiber alleni (round-tailed muskrat)
Often (informal) shortened to musquash
Word Origin
C17: by folk etymology, from the same source as musquash
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 muskrat

also musk-rat, 1610s, alteration (by association with musk and rat) of musquash, from Algonquian (probably Powhatan) muscascus, literally "it is red," so called for its colorings. From cognate Abenaki muskwessu comes variant form musquash (1620s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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