[mong-goos, mon-]

noun, plural mon·goos·es.

a slender, ferretlike carnivore, Herpestes edwardsi, of India, that feeds on rodents, birds, and eggs, noted especially for its ability to kill cobras and other venomous snakes.
any of several other animals of this genus or related genera.

Origin of mongoose

1690–1700; < Marathi mangūs, variant of muṅgūs Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mongoose

Historical Examples of mongoose

  • Still more watchful is a cobra when he fights with a mongoose.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • The mongoose is a small beast of prey of the Viverridæ family.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • They are particularly on the watch for the Mediterranean fruit fly and for the mongoose.

    Conservation Reader

    Harold W. Fairbanks

  • When there were no people in the bungalow, did we have any mongoose in the garden?

    The Jungle Book

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Is it what they call the mongoose, or monsoon, or something?

    Hilda Wade

    Grant Allen

British Dictionary definitions for mongoose


noun plural -gooses

any small predatory viverrine mammal of the genus Herpestes and related genera, occurring in Africa and from S Europe to SE Asia, typically having a long tail and brindled coat

Word Origin for mongoose

C17: from Marathi mangūs, of Dravidian origin
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 mongoose

"snake-killing ichneumon of India," 1690s, perhaps via Portuguese, from an Indic language (cf. Mahrathi mangus "mongoose"), probably ultimately from Dravidian (cf. Telugu mangisu, Kanarese mungisi, Tamil mangus). The form of the English word altered by folk-etymology.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper