civ·​et | \ ˈsi-vət How to pronounce civet (audio) \

Definition of civet

1 : any of various Old World carnivorous viverrid mammals with long bodies, short legs, and a usually long tail
2 : a thick yellowish musky-odored substance found in a sac near the anus of the civet (especially genera Civettictis, Viverra, and Viverricula) and used in perfume

Illustration of civet

Illustration of civet

civet 1

Examples of civet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Overall, Poust notes, Diegoaelurus was probably closer in appearance to a civet or a fossa. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Mar. 2022 SARS-CoV-1, the virus that caused the 2002-04 SARS epidemic, seems to have crossed over from civet cats. Adam O’neal, WSJ, 26 Nov. 2021 The civet was identified as the most probable source of SARS within four months of the outbreak; camels were identified within nine months of MERS. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2021 Previous coronavirus outbreaks include the first SARS in 2003, which started in bats, then spread to civet cats and into humans; and the 2012 MERS outbreak, which spilled over from bats to camels, and ultimately to people. A. Chris Gajilan, CNN, 19 Sep. 2021 As my colleague Alice Su reported last year, the breeding and sale of animals such as civet cats and pangolins, which are considered possible intermediary carriers of COVID-19 on its path from bats to humans, is a $73-billion industry in China. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2021 Machine learning identified the palm civet and greater horseshoe bat as the species likeliest to transmit novel coronaviruses to humans. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2021 That animal probably transmitted the virus to an intermediate host, like a mink, pangolin, civet or racoon dog, which then passed the virus to a human. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Apr. 2021 The two previous coronavirus outbreaks both started when coronaviruses jumped from animals to humans, from civet cats in 2003 with SARS and from camels with MERS in 2012. William A. Haseltine, Scientific American, 19 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civet.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of civet

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for civet

Middle French civette, from Old Italian zibetto, from Arabic zabād civet perfume

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civet bean

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Cite this Entry

“Civet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for civet


civ·​et | \ ˈsiv-ət How to pronounce civet (audio) \

Medical Definition of civet

1 : civet cat
2 : a thick yellowish musky-odored substance found in a pouch near the sexual organs of the civet cat and used in perfume

More from Merriam-Webster on civet Encyclopedia article about civet


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