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See more synonyms for civet on Thesaurus.com
  1. a yellowish, unctuous substance with a strong musklike odor, obtained from a pouch in the genital region of civets and used in perfumery.
  2. any catlike, carnivorous mammal of the subfamily Viverrinae, chiefly of southern Asia and Africa, having a coarse-haired, spotted coat, rounded ears, and a narrow muzzle.
  3. any of various related or similar animals, as the palm civet.
  4. cacomistle.
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Origin of civet

1525–35; < Middle French civette < Catalan civettaArabic zabād civet perfume; see zibet
Related formsciv·et·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for civet

puma, lynx, leopard, tiger, lion, wildcat, jaguar, civet, tom, cheetah

Examples from the Web for civet

Historical Examples of civet

  • But it is very improper for such folk to smear themselves with civet.

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

  • Of civet and scimitar I believe it can only be asserted that they are Eastern.

    English Past and Present

    Richard Chevenix Trench

  • I will ask you then, for your own account, Mr. Leroux, of the arrival of the woman in the civet furs.

    The Yellow Claw

    Sax Rohmer

  • Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

  • Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, says Shakspeare.

British Dictionary definitions for civet


  1. any catlike viverrine mammal of the genus Viverra and related genera, of Africa and S Asia, typically having blotched or spotted fur and secreting a powerfully smelling fluid from anal glands
  2. the yellowish fatty secretion of such an animal, used as a fixative in the manufacture of perfumes
  3. the fur of such an animal
  4. short for palm civet
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Word Origin for civet

C16: from Old French civette, from Italian zibetto, from Arabic zabād civet perfume
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 civet


1530s, from Middle French civette (15c.), ultimately (with Italian zibetto, Medieval Latin zibethum, Medieval Greek zapetion) via lost intermediate forms from Arabic zabad "civet," said to be related to zabad "foam, froth," zubd "cream."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper