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[pohl-kat] /ˈpoʊlˌkæt/
noun, plural polecats (especially collectively) polecat.
a European mammal, Mustela putorius, of the weasel family, having a blackish fur and ejecting a fetid fluid when attacked or disturbed.
Compare ferret1 (def 1).
any of various North American skunks.
Origin of polecat
1275-1325; Middle English polcat, perhaps equivalent to Middle French pol, poul chicken (< Latin pullus) + cat1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for polecat
Historical Examples
  • If you can convert a man by callin' him a polecat, why, call him one, of course.

    Aunt Jane of Kentucky Eliza Calvert Hall
  • But you must remember that a polecat is only dangerous when frightened.

  • Like others of its tribe, the polecat kills more prey than it needs.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • Kaug, in these dialects is a porcupine, and She kaug a polecat.

    The Indian in his Wigwam Henry R. Schoolcraft
  • The polecat is the most exclusive of animals—the garlic of vegetables.

    The Complete Cynic Oliver Herford
  • Thats a polecat, the cruellest and most bloodthirsty beast in creation.

    The Duel A. I. Kuprin
  • The foyne appears to have been the same as the polecat or fitchet.

    Chats on Costume G. Woolliscroft Rhead
  • Husband rolling in drunk, stink of pub off him like a polecat.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • The polecat, weasel, and stoat are often too abundant for keepers of poultry.

    The Story of the Hills H. N. Hutchinson
  • I reckon I'd as soon bleed a polecat as a Ryan, if I yearned for blood.

    Curly Roger Pocock
British Dictionary definitions for polecat


noun (pl) -cats, -cat
Also called (formerly) foumart. a dark brown musteline mammal, Mustela putorius, of woodlands of Europe, Asia, and N Africa, that is closely related to but larger than the weasel and gives off an unpleasant smell See also sweet marten
any of various related animals, such as the marbled polecat,Vormela peregusna
(US) a nontechnical name for skunk (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14 polcat, perhaps from Old French pol cock, from Latin pullus, + cat1; from its habit of preying on poultry
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
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Word Origin and History for polecat

early 14c., from cat (n.); the first element is perhaps Anglo-French pol, from Old French poule "fowl, hen" (see pullet (n.)); so called because it preys on poultry [Klein]. The other alternative is that the first element is from Old French pulent "stinking," for obvious reasons. Originally the European Putorius foetidus; also applied to related U.S. skunks since 1680s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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