There are two main theories for the origin of Old French ermine. Germanic origin is suggested via Old Dutch *harmino (“stoat skin”), from *harmo (“stoat, weasel”) (compare Dutch dialectal herm), from Proto-Germanic *harmǭ, *harmô (compare Old English hearma, Old High German harmo (harmin (adjective), obsolete German Harm), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱormō (compare Romansch carmun, obsolete Lithuanian šarmuõ). Romance sources identify the animal with the corresponding word for Armenian, possibly from Medieval Latin mūs Armenius (“Armenian mouse”) or a posterior compound.
ermine (plural ermine or ermines)
- A weasel, Mustela erminea, found in northern latitudes; its dark brown fur turns white in winter (apart from the black tip of the tail)
- The white fur of this animal
- (poetic) A symbol of purity
- (figuratively) The office of a judge
- (heraldry) A white field with black spots
- To clothe with ermine