weasel

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English[edit]

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A weasel Mustela frenata (2)

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English wesele, from Old English weosule, from Proto-Germanic *wisulǭ (compare West Frisian wezeling, Low German Wessel, Wissel, Dutch wezel, German Wiesel, Swedish vessla), from Proto-Indo-European *wiselos (compare Irish fíal 'ferret'), from *wis- 'musk, stink' (compare Latin virus 'slimy liquid, mud; stench', Sanskrit विस्र (visra) 'musty, smelling of raw meat)'.

The verb comes from the supposed cunningness of the weasel.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

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weasel (plural weasels)

  1. The least weasel, Mustela nivalis.
  2. Any of the carnivorous mammals of the genus Mustela, having a slender body, a long tail and usually a light brown upper coat and light-coloured belly.
  3. The taxonomic family Mustelidae is also called the weasel family.
  4. A devious or sneaky person or animal.
  5. A type of yarn winder used for counting the yardage of handspun yarn. It most commonly has a wooden peg or dowel that pops up from the gearing mechanism after a certain number of yards have been wound onto the winder.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Verb[edit]

weasel (third-person singular simple present weasels, present participle weaseling or weaselling, simple past and past participle weaseled or weaselled)

  1. (transitive) To achieve by clever or devious means.
    • 2010 (publication date), Tony Dajer, "Vital Signs", Discover, ISSN 0274-7529, volume 32, number 1, January–February 2011, page 10:
      Prisoners are notorious for weaseling day passes to get out of lockup [] .
  2. (transitive or reflexive) To gain something for oneself by clever or devious means.
    • 2006, Tony Ruggiero, Alien Deception:
      He's weaseled himself into a position where he can influence the outcome of this election.
    • 2010, Susie Davis, Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage, page 147:
      Within just a couple of days, she [a dog] had weaseled her way into our hearts.
  3. (intransitive) To engage in clever or devious behavior.
    • 1996, Stefan Bechtel, Larry Stains, Sex: A Man's Guide, page 151:
      Authority figures have a history of weaseling on this topic.

Usage notes[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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