vul·​pine | \ ˈvəl-ˌpīn How to pronounce vulpine (audio) \

Definition of vulpine

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a fox
2 : foxy, crafty a vulpine smile vulpine charms

Vulpine and Henry David Thoreau

In Walden (1854), Henry David Thoreau described foxes crying out "raggedly and demoniacally" as they hunted through the winter forest, and he wrote, "Sometimes one came near to my window, attracted by my light, barked a vulpine curse at me, and then retreated." Thoreau's was far from the first use of vulpine; English writers have been applying that adjective to the foxlike or crafty since at least the 15th century, and the Latin parent of our term, vulpinus (from the noun vulpes, meaning "fox"), was around long before that.

First Known Use of vulpine

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vulpine

Middle English, from Latin vulpinus, from vulpes fox; perhaps akin to Greek alōpēx fox — more at alopecia

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The first known use of vulpine was in the 15th century

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vulpine opossum

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Cite this Entry

“Vulpine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of vulpine

: of, relating to, or similar to a fox


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