Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

ferret1

[fer-it]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a domesticated, usually red-eyed, and albinic variety of the polecat, used in Europe for driving rabbits and rats from their burrows.
  2. black-footed ferret.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to drive out by using or as if using a ferret (often followed by out): to ferret rabbits from their burrows; to ferret out enemies.
  2. to hunt with ferrets.
  3. to hunt over with ferrets: to ferret a field.
  4. to search out, discover, or bring to light (often followed by out): to ferret out the facts.
  5. to harry, worry, or torment: His problems ferreted him day and night.
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to search about.
Show More

Origin of ferret1

1350–1400; Middle English fer(r)et(te), fyret, furet < Middle French furet < Vulgar Latin *furittus, equivalent to fūr thief (< Latin) + -ittus -et
Related formsfer·ret·er, nounfer·ret·y, adjectiveun·fer·ret·ed, adjectiveun·fer·ret·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for ferret out

ferret1

noun
  1. a domesticated albino variety of the polecat Mustela putorius, bred for hunting rats, rabbits, etc
  2. an assiduous searcher
  3. black-footed ferret a musteline mammal, Mustela nigripes, of W North America, closely related to the weasels
Show More
verb -rets, -reting or -reted
  1. to hunt (rabbits, rats, etc) with ferrets
  2. (tr usually foll by out) to drive from hidingto ferret out snipers
  3. (tr usually foll by out) to find by persistent investigation
  4. (intr) to search around
Show More
Derived Formsferreter, nounferrety, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French furet, from Latin fur thief

ferret2

ferreting

noun
  1. silk binding tape
Show More

Word Origin

C16: from Italian fioretti floss silk, plural of fioretto : a little flower, from fiore flower, from Latin flōs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ferret out

ferret

v.

early 15c., from ferret (n.), in reference to the use of half-tame ferrets to kill rats and flush rabbits from burrows; the extended sense of "search out, discover" is 1570s. Related: Ferreted; ferreting.

Show More

ferret

n.

late 14c., from Old French furet, diminutive of fuiron "weasel, ferret," literally "thief," probably from Late Latin furionem (related to furonem "cat," also "robber"), from Latin fur (genitive furis) "thief."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ferret out

ferret out

Uncover and bring to light by searching, as in Sandy was a superb reporter, tireless in ferreting out whatever facts were needed for her story. This expression alludes to hunting with ferrets, weasel-like animals formerly used to drive rabbits out of their burrows. [c. 1600]

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.