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[wee-zuh l] /ˈwi zəl/
noun, plural weasels (especially collectively) weasel.
any small carnivore of the genus Mustela, of the family Mustelidae, having a long, slender body and feeding chiefly on small rodents.
any of various similar animals of the family Mustelidae.
a cunning, sneaky person.
a tracked vehicle resembling a tractor, used in snow.
Slang. an informer; stool pigeon.
verb (used without object)
to evade an obligation, duty, or the like; renege (often followed by out):
That's one invitation I'd like to weasel out of.
to use weasel words; be ambiguous; mislead:
Upon cross-examination the witness began to weasel.
Slang. to inform.
Origin of weasel
before 900; 1920-25 for def 6; Middle English wesele, Old English wesle, weosule; cognate with Old High German wisula, German Wiesel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for weasel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The wolverene is a big cousin to the weasel, and also to the skunk.

    The House in the Water Charles G. D. Roberts
  • HE Otter belongs to a class of animals which we may call the weasel tribe.

  • The weasel refused, saying that he was by nature the enemy of all birds.

  • He connected this fact with Uncle Remus's allusions to the weasel.

    Nights With Uncle Remus Joel Chandler Harris
  • In shape it is somewhat like a weasel, and is the largest of the tree martens.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • Sigmund went searching for the herb he saw the weasel carry to his comrade.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
British Dictionary definitions for weasel


noun (pl) -sels, -sel
any of various small predatory musteline mammals of the genus Mustela and related genera, esp M. nivalis (European weasel), having reddish-brown fur, an elongated body and neck, and short legs
(informal) a sly or treacherous person
(mainly US) a motor vehicle for use in snow, esp one with caterpillar tracks
Derived Forms
weaselly, adjective
Word Origin
Old English weosule, wesle; related to Old Norse visla, Old High German wisula, Middle Dutch wesel
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 weasel

Old English weosule, wesle "weasel," from Proto-Germanic *wisulon (cf. Old Norse visla, Middle Dutch wesel, Dutch wezel, Old High German wisula, German Wiesel), probably related to Proto-Germanic *wisand- "bison" (see bison), with a base sense of "stinking animal," because both animals have a foul, musky smell (cf. Latin vissio "stench"). A John Wesilheued ("John Weaselhead") turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384, but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason.


"to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning," 1900, from weasel (n.); so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact; the sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for weasel



: Little Joe turned weasel


  1. To evade and equivocate; use deceptive language; deceive: They told the candidate to stop weaseling and get to the substance/ I was trying to weasel some bank from you (1956+)
  2. To inform; sing, squeal (1920s+ Underworld)

[the first verb sense is said to be based on the weasel's habit of sucking the meat or substance from an egg, leaving only the shell; the other senses reflect the more general nasty reputation of the weasel, which has meant ''contemptible person'' since at least the 1500s]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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