noun (1)
fer·​ret | \ˈfer-ət \

Definition of ferret 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a domesticated usually albino, brownish, or silver-gray animal (Mustela putorius furo) that is descended from the European polecat

b : black-footed ferret

2 : an active and persistent searcher


ferreted; ferreting; ferrets

Definition of ferret (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to hunt with ferrets

2 : to search about

transitive verb

1a(1) : to hunt (animals, such as rabbits) with ferrets

(2) : to force out of hiding : flush

b : to find and bring to light by searching usually used with out ferret out the answers

2 : harry, worry


noun (2)

Definition of ferret (Entry 3 of 3)

: a narrow cotton, silk, or wool tape

called also ferreting

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Other Words from ferret

Noun (1)

ferrety \ˈfer-​ə-​tē \ adjective


ferreter noun

Ferret as a Verb


Since the 14th century, English speakers have used "ferret" as the name of a small domesticated animal of the weasel family. The word came to us by way of Anglo-French and can be traced back to Latin fur, meaning "thief." These days ferrets are often kept as pets, but prior to that they were typically used to hunt rabbits, rats, and other vermin, and to drive them from their underground burrows. By the 15th century, the verb "ferret" was being used of the action of hunting with ferrets. By the late 16th century, the verb had taken on figurative uses as well. Today, we most frequently encounter the verb "ferret" in the sense of "to find and bring to light by searching."

First Known Use of ferret

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1649, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ferret

Noun (1)

Middle English furet, ferret, from Anglo-French firet, furet, from Vulgar Latin *furittus, literally, little thief, diminutive of Latin fur thief — more at furtive

Noun (2)

probably modification of Italian fioretti floss silk, from plural of fioretto, diminutive of fiore flower, from Latin flor-, flos — more at blow

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The first known use of ferret was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for ferret


fer·​ret | \ˈfer-ət \

Kids Definition of ferret

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a domesticated animal with usually white or light brown or gray fur that originates from the European polecat


ferreted; ferreting

Kids Definition of ferret (Entry 2 of 2)

: to find by eager searching Could you ferret out the answer?

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More from Merriam-Webster on ferret

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ferret

Spanish Central: Translation of ferret

Nglish: Translation of ferret for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ferret for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ferret

Comments on ferret

What made you want to look up ferret? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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