weasel out

weasel

[wee-zuhl]
noun, plural weasels (especially collectively) weasel.
1.
any small carnivore of the genus Mustela, of the family Mustelidae, having a long, slender body and feeding chiefly on small rodents.
2.
any of various similar animals of the family Mustelidae.
3.
a cunning, sneaky person.
4.
a tracked vehicle resembling a tractor, used in snow.
5.
Slang. an informer; stool pigeon.
verb (used without object)
6.
to evade an obligation, duty, or the like; renege (often followed by out ): That's one invitation I'd like to weasel out of.
7.
to use weasel words; be ambiguous; mislead: Upon cross-examination the witness began to weasel.
8.
Slang. to inform.

Origin:
before 900; 1920–25 for def 6; Middle English wesele, Old English wesle, weosule; cognate with Old High German wisula, German Wiesel

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
weasel (ˈwiːzəl)
 
n , pl -sels, -sel
1.  any of various small predatory musteline mammals of the genus Mustela and related genera, esp M. nivalis (European weasel), having reddish-brown fur, an elongated body and neck, and short legs
2.  informal a sly or treacherous person
3.  chiefly (US) a motor vehicle for use in snow, esp one with caterpillar tracks
 
[Old English weosule, wesle; related to Old Norse visla, Old High German wisula, Middle Dutch wesel]
 
'weaselly
 
adj

weasel out
 
vb , (US) -sels, -selling, -selled, -seling, -seled
1.  to go back on a commitment
2.  to evade a responsibility, esp in a despicable manner

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

weasel
O.E. weosule, wesle "weasel," from P.Gmc. *wisulon (cf. O.N. visla, M.Du. wesel, Du. wezel, O.H.G. wisula, Ger. Wiesel), probably related to P.Gmc. *wisand- "bison" (see bison), with a base sense of "stinking animal," because both animals have a foul, musky smell (cf. L. vissio
"stench"). The verb "to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning" is first attested 1900, so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact; the sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956. A John Wesilheued ("John Weaselhead") turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384, but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Weasel definition


(Heb. holedh), enumerated among unclean animals (Lev. 11:29). Some think that this Hebrew word rather denotes the mole (Spalax typhlus) common in Palestine. There is no sufficient reason, however, to depart from the usual translation. The weasel tribe are common also in Palestine.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

weasel out

Back out of a situation or commitment, especially in a sneaky way. For example, I'd love to weasel out of serving on the board. This expression alludes to the stealthy hunting and nesting habits of the weasel, a small, slender-bodied predator. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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