wea·​sel | \ ˈwē-zəl How to pronounce weasel (audio) \
plural weasels

Definition of weasel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 or plural weasel : any of various small slender active carnivorous mammals (genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae, the weasel family) that are able to prey on animals (such as rabbits) larger than themselves, are mostly brown with white or yellowish underparts, and in northern forms turn white in winter — compare ermine sense 1a
2 : a light self-propelled tracked vehicle built either for traveling over snow, ice, or sand or as an amphibious vehicle
3 : a sneaky, untrustworthy, or insincere person


weaseled; weaseling\ ˈwēz-​liŋ How to pronounce weaseling (audio) , ˈwē-​zə-​ \

Definition of weasel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to use weasel words : equivocate
2 : to escape from or evade a situation or obligation often used with out

transitive verb

: to manipulate shiftily

Illustration of weasel

Illustration of weasel


weasel 1

In the meaning defined above

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Examples of weasel in a Sentence


the polite guest chose to weasel rather than admit that he didn't like the meal

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In preparing for this possibility, Mr. Guaidó doesn’t have to worry only about Mr. Maduro’s supporters but also about the weasels who want to seize control of the opposition movement. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Power and Money in Venezuela," 10 Feb. 2019 Elil are rabbit’s natural enemies — cats and dogs, weasels and hawks, men, all grouped as the Thousand. Peter Rock, New York Times, "On the Unsettling Allure of ‘Watership Down’," 15 May 2018 The donning of amulets fashioned from dismembered dead animals, like weasel testicles (in the Middle Ages) and mule uteri (in ancient Greece). Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 New Zealand, home to tons of rare endemic species being gobbled up by rats, cats, weasels and other invasive species, is undertaking a monumental campaign to eradicate non-native mammals by 2050. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Coral Reefs Need Fewer Rats and More Bird Poo," 12 July 2018 One of Tasmania’s most prominent tiger-hunting groups, the Thylacine Research Unit, or T.R.U., looked at the images and pronounced the animal a quoll, a marsupial carnivore that looks vaguely like a weasel. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger," 16 Jan. 2012 The Canadian Rockies hold a huge number of carnivores—wolves, cougars, wolverine, lynx, coyote, marten, and smaller weasels. Christopher Solomon, Outside Online, "Humans Are Turning Mammals More Nocturnal," 14 June 2018 Though small by marine mammal standards, sea otters are the largest members of the weasel family and males can grow to nearly 100 pounds (45 kilograms). Washington Post, "Sea otters rebound but struggle to regain historic range," 18 May 2018 And, to be fair, these little guys (actually the largest land-dwelling weasels) are ferocious. Josh Dean, Esquire, "America's 10 Toughest Animals," 2 June 2015

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Tough Day: The inspector dinged you because your helper managed to weasel his way through a couple of overfilled boxes and even a sloppy splice that somehow missed your attention. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson," 13 Mar. 2019 Shortly after being committed, Sawyer becomes convinced that one member of the medical staff (Joshua Leonard) is actually her old stalker, having followed her to Pennsylvania, assumed a false name, and weaseled his way into a staff job. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Unsane Review: A Horror Movie About What It’s Like to Be a Woman," 22 Mar. 2018 While the idea of cybercriminals forking over a few bucks to weasel their way into a person's online accounts sounds scary, there are a couple simple cybersecurity practices that can keep everyone safe. Alyssa Newcomb /, NBC News, "Your identity is for sale on the dark web for less than $1,200," 12 Mar. 2018 Wolff clearly seduced, weaseled, confused and finagled his sources to get them yapping. Michael Miner, Chicago Reader, "Criminal Justice / Media / News Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, and the question of when we get to say the hell with the rules," 11 Jan. 2018 Native to Asia, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug arrived in the United States in mid '90s, and have weaseled their way into 44 states since then, according to StopBMSB.org. Courtney Campbell, Country Living, "If Your Home Smells Like Rotting Cherries, It's Probably a Stink Bug Invasion," 29 Sep. 2017 This apparently is a big motivation in his hare-brained attempt to weasel out White House leakers, knowing how much more Trump cares about that than any of the actual responsibilities of being president. Luke Darby, GQ, "Trump Might Hate Jeff Sessions More Than Anyone Else Who Works for Him," 15 Sep. 2017 Red Solo cups have somehow weaseled their way into Southern culture. Southern Living, "Red Solo Cup 101 With Professor Toby Keith," 11 Sep. 2017 That attitude was on full display in April when the Sessions Justice Department tried to weasel out of the consent decree agreement that the Obama Justice Department had struck with the city of Baltimore. Slate Staff, Slate Magazine, "Trump, Bound," 26 Apr. 2017

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1900, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for weasel


Middle English wesele, from Old English weosule; akin to Old High German wisula weasel


weasel word

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Statistics for weasel

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for weasel

The first known use of weasel was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for weasel



English Language Learners Definition of weasel

: a small animal that has a thin body and brown fur and that eats small birds and other animals
informal : a dishonest person who cannot be trusted


wea·​sel | \ ˈwē-zəl How to pronounce weasel (audio) \

Kids Definition of weasel

: a small slender active animal related to the mink that feeds on small birds and animals (as mice)

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More from Merriam-Webster on weasel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with weasel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for weasel

Spanish Central: Translation of weasel

Nglish: Translation of weasel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of weasel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about weasel

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