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A marbled polecat (weasel-like animal).


From Middle English polcat, pulkat, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Middle English *pole, *poule (hen), from Old French poule (hen) + Middle English cat. Compare English foulmart.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpəʊlkæt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊlkæt


polecat (plural polecats)

  1. A weasel-like animal of the genus Mustela.
    1. notably, the European polecat, Mustela putorius.
      • 1837, George Sand, translated by Stanley Young, Mauprat[1], Cassandra Editions, published 1977, →ISBN, page 237:
        For a long time the dormouse and polecat had seemed to him overfeeble enemies for his restless valour, even as the granary floor seemed to afford too narrow a field. Every day he read the papers of the previous day in the servants' hall of the houses he visited, and it appeared to him that this war in America, which was hailed as the awakening of the spirit of liberty and justice in the New World, ought to produce a revolution in France.
      • 1919, Ronald Firbank, Valmouth, Duckworth, hardback edition, page 61
        By the little garden pergola open to the winds some fluttered peacocks were blotted nervelessly amid the dripping trees, their heads sunk back beneath their wings: while in the pergola itself, like a fallen storm-cloud, lolled a negress, her levelled, polecat eyes semi-veiled by the nebulous alchemy of the rainbow.
      Synonyms: fitch, foumart
  2. (US, dialects, including Appalachia) A skunk.
  3. (television) A tubular device used to support lights on a set.
    • 1991, Gerald Millerson, The Technique of Lighting for Television and Film, page 323:
      This is adjustable telescopic tubing, wedged securely between floor and ceiling (vertical pole) or wall-to-wall (horizontal pole), within corridors, arches, window openings, doorways, etc. It may be held in position by a strong internal spring or end-screws. Designs include polecat, varipole, barricuda, jack tube, Acrow.
    • 2013, Alan Bermingham, Location Lighting for Television, page 196:
      This uses a battery-operated HMI/MSR 200 W rigged on a magic arm fastened to a vertical 'pole-cat'. Check that the car roof is suitable for this application and remember to include a clean card (beer mat) between the top of the pole-cat and the car roof!

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