any of various small, mouselike rodents of several genera including Lemmus, Myopus, and Dicrostonyx, of far northern regions, as L. lemmus, of Norway, Sweden, etc., noted for periodic mass migrations that sometimes involve crossing bodies of water. Incidental drownings that have occurred during such passage gave rise to the myth of mass suicides among supposedly frenzied lemmings jumping from cliffs into the sea.
a person who follows the will of others, especially in a mass movement, and heads straight into a situation or circumstance that is dangerous, stupid, or destructive: These lemmings that eat up conspiracy theories are so blinded by lies, they don’t even see the cliff they’re about to plummet over.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use lemming in a sentence
Owls are carnivorous hunters known for feasting on mice, voles, lemmings, and even squirrels.
Less than a year later, I’m the first lemming off the cliff.Will Major Marathons Actually Come Back This Fall? | Martin Fritz Huber | February 4, 2021 | Outside Online
“You become a lemming in a big scary world,” says Zbitnoff of making the transition.Katie Might Be Able to Leave Tom—but Divorcing Scientology Won’t Be Easy | Eliza Shapiro | July 4, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
The articles say Miscavige exerts such influence that “managers follow his orders, however bizarre, with lemming-like obedience.”
The lemming multiplies with great rapidity under favourable conditions.The History of the European Fauna | R. F. Scharff
The lemming and the musk ox found a home, and the wild horse pranced about unrestrained by the hand of man.A Manual of the Antiquity of Man | J. P. MacLean
Arctic hares, rabbits, rein-deer; and the lemming, in some parts of the interior.
The next moment he lifted his head with a fat lemming dangling from either side of his fine jaws.Hoof and Claw | Charles G. D. Roberts
He was very prettily marked about the face and tail, so I concluded that he was not a common rat, but probably a lemming.The Intellectual Life | =Philip Gilbert Hamerton
British Dictionary definitions for lemming
any of various volelike rodents of the genus Lemmus and related genera, of northern and arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America: family Cricetidae. The Scandinavian variety, Lemmus lemmus, migrates periodically when its population reaches a peak
a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction
- lemming-like, adjective
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