- a European mammal, Mustela putorius, of the weasel family, having a blackish fur and ejecting a fetid fluid when attacked or disturbed.Compare ferret1(def 1).
- any of various North American skunks.
Origin of polecat
Examples from the Web for polecat
If you can convert a man by callin' him a polecat, why, call him one, of course.Aunt Jane of Kentucky
Eliza Calvert Hall
But you must remember that a polecat is only dangerous when frightened.The Outdoor Chums in the Big Woods
Like others of its tribe, the polecat kills more prey than it needs.Poachers and Poaching
Kaug, in these dialects is a porcupine, and She kaug a polecat.The Indian in his Wigwam
Henry R. Schoolcraft
The polecat is the most exclusive of animals—the garlic of vegetables.The Complete Cynic
- Also called (formerly): foumart a dark brown musteline mammal, Mustela putorius, of woodlands of Europe, Asia, and N Africa, that is closely related to but larger than the weasel and gives off an unpleasant smellSee also sweet marten
- any of various related animals, such as the marbled polecat, Vormela peregusna
- US a nontechnical name for skunk (def. 1)
Word Origin and History for polecat
early 14c., from cat (n.); the first element is perhaps Anglo-French pol, from Old French poule "fowl, hen" (see pullet (n.)); so called because it preys on poultry [Klein]. The other alternative is that the first element is from Old French pulent "stinking," for obvious reasons. Originally the European Putorius foetidus; also applied to related U.S. skunks since 1680s.