civet cat


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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 According to The Independent, farmers will be compensated about $88 per porcupine; $84 per civet cat; $11 per kilogram of bamboo rat; $17 per kilogram of cobra, king rattle or rat snakes; and $345 per wild goose or Chinese muntjac deer. Benjamin Vanhoose,, 19 May 2020 More exotic creatures like snakes and marmots are harder to spot since the days of SARS -- thought to have spread through civet cats -- but are sometimes sold surreptitiously., 8 May 2020 Bi’s farm is one of nearly 20,000 in China raising rare species, including civet cats, peacocks, boar and ostriches, that have been forced to close. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, 21 Apr. 2020 Most of us didn’t ride camels, didn’t eat monkeys, didn’t handle live bats and civet cats in the marketplace. National Geographic, 8 Apr. 2020 That’s what happened with the SARS coronavirus, which was responsible for a deadly epidemic in 2003 and was believed to have spread to civet cats from bats before infecting humans in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002. Hallie Levine, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civet cat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 28 Nov. 2022.

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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