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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 out
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If there be a doubt, I shall contrive to get the weasel out of the way.

    Pabo, The Priest Sabine Baring-Gould
  • The ambitious young man had slunk like a weasel out of this civil war into which he had heedlessly thrown himself.

  • Bevis looked at him a little while, and then put his foot on the spring and pressed it down and took the weasel out.

    Wood Magic

    Richard Jefferies
  • The Conductor immediately threw the weasel out of the window, as ordered, and the Hatter resumed.

    Alice in Blunderland John Kendrick Bangs
  • Finally I went to the house for the gun, and when I returned found the weasel out chasing the hen again.

  • Mother used to say that all the worry in the world would never keep a weasel out of the hen-house.

    The Builders Ellen Glasgow
British Dictionary definitions for weasel out

weasel out

verb (intransitive, adverb) (informal) -sels, -selling, -selled (US) -seling, -seled
to go back on a commitment
to evade a responsibility, esp in a despicable manner


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 out



"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.



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.

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

weasel out

verb phrase

To withdraw from or evade, esp a promise or obligation, in a sneaky, underhanded way: I coulda cut them loose, coulda made some excuse, even coulda weaseled out (1956+)



: 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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Idioms and Phrases with weasel out

weasel out

Back out of a situation or commitment, especially in a sneaky way. For example, I'd love to weasel out of serving on the board. This expression alludes to the stealthy hunting and nesting habits of the weasel, a small, slender-bodied predator. [ ; mid-1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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