lem·​ming | \ ˈle-miŋ \

Definition of lemming

: 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

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Other Words from lemming

lemminglike \ 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

Examples of lemming in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

When lemmings are in plentiful supply, the owls will produce more eggs. Mari A. Schaefer, Philly.com, "Snowy owls calling Philadelphia International Airport their winter home," 5 Mar. 2018 From my point of view, the proliferation of mindful everything (iPhone apps, triathlons, vacation destinations, weight loss programs, beauty products, mayonnaise) smells like lemmings. Cindy Dampier, chicagotribune.com, "Mindfulness is not just a buzzword, it's a multibillion dollar industry. Here's the truth about the hype," 2 July 2018 These dramatically kill ants that run across them—the problem is that all fire ants are not like lemmings. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "The 4 Best Fire Ant Removal Methods, Plus Some You Should Never Try," 26 June 2017 Well, of course, the lemmings in the press spent the entire day painting the Tillerson firing as evidence of more White House dysfunction. Fox News, "Is Pennsylvania special election a bellwether for midterms?," 14 Mar. 2018 The Republicans are reminiscent of lemmings that follow those that have leapt over the cliff for no reason other than following and destruction is biologically ingrained in them. Linda Gandee/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Whitey the Deer comes home to Avon Lake Library," 29 Jan. 2018 But researchers worry that climate change will affect the owl population because lemmings are exceptionally sensitive to even small temperature changes. Tammy Webber, The Christian Science Monitor, "The arrival of snowy owls wintering in northern US present unique opportunity for scientists," 22 Dec. 2017 But researchers worry that climate change will affect the owl population because lemmings are exceptionally sensitive to even small temperature changes. Washington Post, "Snowy owls listed as vulnerable as climate threatens prey," 22 Dec. 2017 When lemmings are abundant, snowies are able to successfully hatch and fledge more young. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Project SNOWstorm aims to track snowy owls in Wisconsin this winter," 16 Dec. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of lemming

1713, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lemming


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Dictionary Entries near lemming





lemming mouse



Statistics for lemming

Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lemming

The first known use of lemming was in 1713

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Financial Definition of 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.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of lemming

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on lemming

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lemming

Spanish Central: Translation of lemming

Nglish: Translation of lemming for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lemming

Comments on lemming

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


to deny responsibility for

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