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Formed by the compounding of meer- (the first element of meerkat) with kitten (young cat). The analysis of the -kat element of meerkat as cat is supported by meerkat’s ultimate derivation from the Middle Dutch meercatte, believed to have been formed from mere (lake”, “sea) + catte (cat).



meerkitten (plural meerkittens)

  1. (informal) An infant or juvenile meerkat.
    • 2001, Yann Martel, Life of Pi, Canongate (2003), →ISBN, page 267:
      Meerkats were jumping up and down in a state of great ferment. Suddenly, by the hundreds, they began diving into the pond. There was much pushing and shoving as the meerkats behind vied to reach the pond’s edge. The frenzy was collective; even tiny meerkittens were making for the water, barely being held back by mothers and guardians.
    • ibidem, page 276:
      I woke up at dawn covered from head to toe in a living fur blanket. Some meerkittens had discovered the warmer parts of my body.