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See more synonyms for ferret on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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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.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to search about.
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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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ferreting

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It's no joke to see you tossing all my things about and ferreting everywhere in this way.

  • The case is one of importance and no delay should occur in ferreting it out.

    Between the Lines

    Henry Bascom Smith

  • He had not, with all his skill and cunning, her genius for ferreting.

    The Art of Disappearing

    John Talbot Smith

  • Of the many modes of taking the "coney," ferreting and field-netting are the most common.

  • Of the many modes of taking the "coney," ferreting is the most common.

British Dictionary definitions for ferreting


  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
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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
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Derived Formsferreter, nounferrety, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French furet, from Latin fur thief



  1. silk binding tape
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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 ferreting



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.

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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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper