pole·​cat | \ ˈpōl-ˌkat How to pronounce polecat (audio) \
plural polecats or polecat

Definition of polecat

1 : any of several carnivorous mammals (as of the genera Mustela or Vormela) of the weasel family especially : a brown to black European mammal (M. putorius) from which the domesticated ferret is derived
2 : skunk

Examples of polecat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Stereoscopic souvenir cards show a faux mountainside crammed like a Victorian what-not shelf with deer, goats, polecats, and raptors. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, "What the Little Woman Was Up To," 10 Mar. 2020 Stoat – Related to weasels, polecats and ferrets, the stoat is a small but ferocious predator. Sarah Lazarus, CNN, "Can tech save the kakapo, New Zealand's 'gorgeous, hilarious' parrot?," 26 Dec. 2019 Because Wajid Ali Shah had hundreds of wives and concubines, people identifying themselves as descendants are all over the place in Lucknow, fighting like polecats over the veracity of one another’s claims. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "The Jungle Prince of Delhi," 22 Nov. 2019 The population of animals like polecats, pine martens and badgers have sprung back, now that they are not longer widely trapped or killed for being pests. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The UK’s Hedgehogs (and Other Mammals) Are In Danger," 16 June 2018 The species cannot survive without reproducing quickly, since most hamsters only live a year or two before falling prey to a fox, polecat or raptor. Ben Crair, Smithsonian, "Why Are These Hamsters Cannibalizing Their Young?," 21 Feb. 2018 They are related generally to weasels, skunks, minks and polecats (not to be confused with Old West outlaws of a lesser rank with the same name). Fred Dickey, sandiegouniontribune.com, "He's fighting to make ferrets legal in California," 3 Sep. 2017

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for polecat

Middle English polcat, probably from Middle French poul, pol cock + Middle English cat; probably from its preying on poultry — more at pullet

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Time Traveler for polecat

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

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Cite this Entry

“Polecat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polecat. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for polecat


How to pronounce polecat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of polecat

: a European animal that has dark brown fur and a long thin body and that gives off a bad smell to defend itself


pole·​cat | \ ˈpōl-ˌkat How to pronounce polecat (audio) \
plural polecats or polecat

Kids Definition of polecat

1 : a brown or black European animal related to the weasel
2 : skunk

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More from Merriam-Webster on polecat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with polecat

Spanish Central: Translation of polecat

Nglish: Translation of polecat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polecat

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