weasel

1 of 2

noun

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

Illustration of weasel

Illustration of weasel
  • weasel 1

weasel

2 of 2

verb

weaseled; weaseling ˈwēz-liŋ How to pronounce weasel (audio)
ˈwē-zə-

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

Examples of weasel in a Sentence

Verb the polite guest chose to weasel rather than admit that he didn't like the meal
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Under the program, the government plans to eradicate rats, possums (a marsupial native to Australia), weasels, ferrets — and the pesky stoat. Dhruv Tikekar, CNN, 10 Apr. 2024 We’re only told that Girard (Grégory Montel), a pesky weasel from the French office, is a threat to Claire, but his quest to undermine her is never shown. Courtney Howard, Variety, 7 Feb. 2024 The earliest pinnipeds, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh paleontologist Morgan Churchill says, probably looked very much like ancient weasels and bears. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Mar. 2024 The bipartisan bill — if passed — would allow Colorado Parks and Wildlife to accomplish a decades-old goal to restore the elusive and wide-roaming weasel to the state. The Denver Post, 9 Mar. 2024 It was protected by a drop near its entrance exceeding two hundred feet: amorous teen-agers, or foxes or weasels looking for shelter, couldn’t stray in. D. T. Max, The New Yorker, 21 Jan. 2024 Maybe an adorable marine weasel can motivate that, too. David Helvarg, The Mercury News, 28 Feb. 2024 On the other, Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter was an entirely opportunistic, weasel project and the Met’s pathetic stab at art-history affirmative action. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Starting in the 1800s, millions were slaughtered by nonnative predators like stoats, a mammal related to the weasel. Pete McKenzie, New York Times, 4 Dec. 2023
Verb
These weeds—the ones that do the impossible and weasel their way through cracks in the patio, concrete, pavers, and driveway—can be so difficult to remove since most weeding tools don’t fit in between the cracks. Stephanie Osmanski, Southern Living, 3 May 2024 Muir must use his wits to weasel his way into meetings while evading suspicion of his intentions. Kevin Jacobsen and Terry Terrones Updated, EW.com, 10 Nov. 2023 Such a mandarin caste would be congenitally incapable of eye contact, minimizing the ability to weasel out bribes. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 27 Apr. 2010 Peter Sarsgaard offers a sly, juicy performance as a shady chef who weasels his way into the home of an entitled young heir (Billy Magnussen). Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2019 The latest development to weasel its way into the news cycle: The golden birds allegedly boast a shelf life of a mere two hours. Li Goldstein, Bon Appétit, 13 Oct. 2023 Peter tries, for a time, to weasel his way out of that duty. Ron Charles, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 The plot follows a pair of broke compulsive consumers who weasel their way into the environmental movement, initially to enjoy the free beer and snacks, before starting to be won over the political arguments. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 June 2023 Forty-year-old Guy Trilby weasels his way past the rules and competes in a school spelling bee, hoping to move on to the next level. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, 16 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'weasel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

weasel word

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1900, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near weasel

Cite this Entry

“Weasel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weasel. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

weasel

noun
wea·​sel
ˈwē-zəl
plural weasels
1
or plural weasel : any of various small slender active mammals that are related to the minks, eat small animals (as mice and birds), and in northern regions turn white in winter compare ermine sense 1
2
: a sneaky, untrustworthy, or dishonest person

More from Merriam-Webster on weasel

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