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"Large grey" or "Egyptian" mongoose
Indian mongoose
Northern Ring-tailed
Malagasy Mongoose
 mongoose on Wikipedia
 Herpestidae on Wikispecies


 Eupleridae on Wikispecies


Alternative forms[edit]


First attested in the 1690s. Borrowed from Portuguese mangusto, from Marathi मुंगूस (muṅgūs), from Old Marathi 𑘦𑘳𑘽𑘐𑘳𑘭 (muṃgusa), from Sanskrit मद्गुश (madguśa). Ultimately a Dravidian borrowing (compare Telugu ముంగిస (muṅgisa)). Spelling altered by folk-etymological association with goose. Displaced native Old English nǣderbita (literally snake biter).



mongoose (plural mongooses or (nonstandard) mongeese)

  1. Any of several species of generalist predatory Carnivores in the family Herpestidae; the various species range in size from rats to large cats. The Indian mongoose is noted as a predator of venomous snakes, though other mongoose species have similar habits.
    • 1864, John Holmes Agnew et al., The Eclectic Magazine: Foreign Literature[1]:
      After the mongoose had satisfied its appetite, we proceeded to examine with a pocket lens the wounds he had received from the cobra; and on cleansing one of these places, the lens disclosed the broken fang of the cobra deeply imbedded in the head of the mongoose... We have had the mongoose confined ever since (now four days' time), and it is as healthy and lively as ever.
    • 1924, Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book:Rikki-Tikki-Tavi:
      He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits.
  2. Any members of family Eupleridae of Malagasy mongooses, only distantly related to the Herpestidae, but resembling them in appearance and habits, with larger ears and ringed tails.

Derived terms[edit]