civet cat


: any of several small spotted skunks (genus Spilogale) of western North America

Examples of civet cat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web It is thought to have originated in an animal population, perhaps bats, before being passed to civet cats—a tropical animal that looks like a mix of a dog and an ocelot—then to people. Byerin Prater, Fortune Well, 10 Nov. 2023 These wet markets facilitated the emergence of SARS-CoV-1 in bats, civet cats, and humans in 2002 and, some speculate, the novel coronavirus in 2019. Sonia Shah, Foreign Affairs, 17 Apr. 2020 In the case of this virus, the civet cat was an unwitting intermediate host of a viral spillover from bats that made the transition to humans. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2011 However, recent research has implicated bats of the genus Rhinolophus as the natural, unaffected reservoir of the SARS virus, not the civet cat (7). Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2011 As the virus swept China and started appearing in nearby countries, blame focused upon the civet cat, whose meat is considered a great delicacy in Southern China. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2011 Although the origin of the virus is thought to be from a wild animal, either directly from a bat or though an intermediate host like a civet cat or a raccoon dog, domesticated and zoo animals haven’t been implicated in the virus’s spread. Michelle Fay Cortez, Fortune, 16 Nov. 2021 Scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats and was transmitted to another mammal such as a civet cat or an armadillo-like pangolin before being passed on to people. NBC News, 10 July 2020 Limiting interactions with civet cats in China restricted the outbreak. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 31 Mar. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'civet cat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of civet cat was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near civet cat

Cite this Entry

“Civet cat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

civet cat

: a long-bodied short-legged African mammal that is related to the mongooses and produces civet

Medical Definition

civet cat

: any of several carnivorous mammals (family Viverridae)
especially : a long-bodied short-legged African animal (Civettictis civetta) that produces most of the civet of commerce

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