noun, plural polecats (especially collectively) polecat.
a European mammal, Mustela putorius, of the weasel family, having a blackish fur and ejecting a fetid fluid when attacked or disturbed. Compare ferret1 ( def 1 ).
any of various North American skunks.

1275–1325; Middle English polcat, perhaps equivalent to Middle French pol, poul chicken (< Latin pullus) + cat1

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World English Dictionary
polecat (ˈpəʊlˌkæt)
n , pl -cats, -cat
1.  See also sweet marten Also called (formerly): foumart a dark brown musteline mammal, Mustela putorius, of woodlands of Europe, Asia, and N Africa, that is closely related to but larger than the weasel and gives off an unpleasant smell
2.  any of various related animals, such as the marbled polecat,Vormela peregusna
3.  (US) a nontechnical name for skunk
[C14 polcat, perhaps from Old French pol cock, from Latin pullus, + cat1; from its habit of preying on poultry]

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Word Origin & History

1320, first element is probably Anglo-Fr. pol, from O.Fr. poule "fowl, hen," so called because it preys on poultry. The other alternative is that the first element is from O.Fr. pulent "stinking," for obvious reasons. Originally the European Putorius foetidus; also applied to related U.S. skunks since
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
And towering over such marauders as the otter, polecat, bat and fox are two magnificent species of eagle.
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