lemming

play
noun lem·ming \ˈle-miŋ\
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of lemming

  1. :  any of various small short-tailed furry-footed rodents (such as genera Lemmus and Dicrostonyx) of circumpolar distribution that are notable for population fluctuations and recurrent mass migrations Lemmings are the locusts of mammals, and they will strip a habitat bare. Then, they begin migrating forward to find a new feeding ground, swarming over boulders, around trees, whatever stands in their way. If they run into a body of water, they try to swim across. — Natalie Angier

lemminglike

play \ˈle-miŋ-ˌlīk\ adjective Lured by stock prices defying gravity and handsome bond yields, Americans have marched into the funds in lemminglike fashion. — Penelope Wang and David Pauly

Recent Examples of lemming from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of lemming

Norwegian


Financial Definition of LEMMING

lemming

What It Is

A lemming is an investor who does whatever the crowd does.

How It Works

A lemming is a short, furry rodent that is noted for its tendency to migrate en masse, regardless of the danger of the location or the stupidity of the move.

Lemming investors follow the prevailing wisdom without really questioning that wisdom.

Why It Matters

In the investing world, people who follow the crowd for no particular reason are dubbed lemmings. Often, lemmings are individual investors who enter the market after prices have already run up, and they leave the market after prices have already fallen.

Contrarian investors are the opposite of lemmings; they love to do what's out of favor. They tend to buy when everyone else is selling, sell when everyone else is buying, and wait when everyone else is active. The result is that the contrarian often buys a cheap security that everyone else is calling a dog and sells a security that everyone else is clamoring to get into.


LEMMING Defined for English Language Learners

lemming

play
noun

Definition of lemming for English Language Learners

  • : a small animal that lives in northern areas of North America, Europe, and Asia



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