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muskrat

[muhsk-rat] /ˈmʌskˌræt/
noun, plural muskrats (especially collectively) muskrat.
1.
a large, aquatic, North American rodent, Ondatra zibethica, having a musky odor.
2.
its thick, light-brown fur, used for coats, for hats, as a trimming, etc.
Origin
1680-1690
1680-90, Americanism; alteration, by folk etymology, of musquash
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for muskrat
  • If the water level of the dam rises, the muskrat will dig higher into the embankment in order to excavate a new dry chamber.
  • The muskrat's eyes, nose and breathing system help it adapt to life underwater.
  • Here the bait is placed in an abandoned muskrat run or animal den and a trap is concealed at the entrance.
  • Excellent swimmers, they also catch many fish, but their favorite prey is the muskrat.
  • The muskrat is the only native mammal that still has a great impact on wetland ecology in the region.
  • During the summer months, look for permanent residents such as great egrets and muskrat.
British Dictionary definitions for muskrat

muskrat

/ˈmʌskˌræt/
noun (pl) -rats, -rat
1.
a North American beaver-like amphibious rodent, Ondatra zibethica, closely related to but larger than the voles: family Cricetidae
2.
the brown fur of this animal
3.
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
n.

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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