mon·​goose | \ ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) , ˈmäŋ- How to pronounce mongoose (audio) \
plural mongooses also mongeese\ ˈmän-​ˌgēs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) , ˈmäŋ-​ \

Definition of mongoose

: any of numerous long slender carnivorous mammals (family Herpestidae) chiefly of Africa and southern Europe and Asia that are usually ferret-sized agile mammals typically with nonretractile sharp claws, short legs, long tail, and usually brownish or grayish fur sometimes with bands or stripes

Note: Mongooses feed chiefly on small animals (such as insects, earthworms, birds, snakes, and rodents) and are sometimes grouped with the viverrids in two subfamilies (Herpestinae and Galidiinae).

Illustration of mongoose

Illustration of mongoose

Examples of mongoose in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The crested toad’s long list of predators includes cats, crabs, dogs, heron, lizards, mongooses, and rats. National Geographic, "Puerto Rican crested toad," 26 Mar. 2020 But as the examples of the mongoose and cane toad illustrate, biological control can go awry. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Invasive species, explained," 5 June 2019 For Penn, who plays Mikku, one of the mongooses, being part of the show is a thrill. NBC News, "Disney's 'Mira, Royal Detective,' features young Indian girl, and fans can't wait," 17 Mar. 2020 At first, health officials believed palm civets, a mongoose-like species commonly eaten in parts of China, were responsible, as they were widely sold at markets connected to the SARS outbreak, and tested positive for the virus. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "From Bats to Human Lungs, the Evolution of a Coronavirus," 27 Mar. 2020 Meerkats are omnivores from the mongoose family and are found in desert and other arid environments of South Africa. Washington Post, "Zoo Miami welcomes pair of baby meerkats," 4 Feb. 2020 In addition to the many mammals at the park, which include warthogs, baboons, mongooses and others, there are an abundance of reptiles and more than 450 species of birds. Fox News, "Shocking video of python, honey badger and jackals fighting each other goes viral," 11 Dec. 2019 But rodents weren't the only thing mongooses would eat: birds, reptiles, fruits, and other native species proved tasty to these transplants, and they are now ensconced, unwanted residents in the Hawaiian wild. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Invasive species, explained," 5 June 2019 The mongoose was introduced to several islands in Hawaii and the West Indies to control the rodent populations on sugarcane plantations in the 1800s. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Invasive species, explained," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mongoose.' 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 mongoose

1673, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mongoose

Hindi & Marathi mãgūs, from Prakrit maṁgūsa

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Time Traveler for mongoose

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The first known use of mongoose was in 1673

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Cite this Entry

“Mongoose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of mongoose

: a small and very fast animal from India that eats snakes and rodents


mon·​goose | \ ˈmän-ˌgüs How to pronounce mongoose (audio) , ˈmäŋ-ˌgüs \
plural mongooses

Kids Definition of mongoose

: a long thin furry animal with sharp claws that eats small animals (as snakes and mice), eggs, and fruit

More from Merriam-Webster on mongoose

Nglish: Translation of mongoose for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about mongoose

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