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From Middle English stote (“the ermine, especially in its brown summer coat”), of uncertain origin. The word bears some resemblance to Old Norse stutr (“bull”), Swedish stut (“bull, steer”) and Danish stud (“steer”) (see also English stot), but the semantic link is difficult unless a common origin is from “(brown?) male mammal”. First attested in the mid 1400s.
stoat (plural stoats)
- Mustela erminea, the ermine or short-tailed weasel, a mustelid native to Eurasia and North America, distinguished from the least weasel by its larger size and longer tail with a prominent black tip.
- 1886, Transactions of the Edinburgh Naturalists' Field Club, volume 1, page 135:
- I have never seen Stoats hunt in packs, but it is certain both Weasels and Stoats do so.
- 2003, John Long, Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution and Influence, page 272:
- In 1953 it was reported that the stoat had increased to a high population level, but that the weasel introduced at the same time had disappeared (de Vos et al. 1956).
- 2005, T. C. R. White, Why Does the World Stay Green?: Nutrition and Survival of Plant-eaters, page 91:
- European stoats were long ago introduced to New Zealand (along with ferrets and weasels!) in the mistaken belief that they would control the burgeoning populations of introduced rabbits.
- Synonyms: clubster, (especially when in white winter coat) ermine, (US) short-tailed weasel
stoat — see ermine
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