- any small carnivore of the genus Mustela, of the family Mustelidae, having a long, slender body and feeding chiefly on small rodents.
- any of various similar animals of the family Mustelidae.
- a cunning, sneaky person.
- a tracked vehicle resembling a tractor, used in snow.
- Slang. an informer; stool pigeon.
- to evade an obligation, duty, or the like; renege (often followed by out): That's one invitation I'd like to weasel out of.
- to use weasel words; be ambiguous; mislead: Upon cross-examination the witness began to weasel.
- Slang. to inform.
Origin of weasel
Related Words for weasel outannul, revoke, backtrack, repudiate, contradict, renounce, disavow, renege, retract, disown, rescind, cancel, surrender, default, reverse, invalidate, void, dismantle, abolish, nullify
- to go back on a commitment
- to evade a responsibility, esp in a despicable manner
- any of various small predatory musteline mammals of the genus Mustela and related genera, esp M. nivalis (European weasel), having reddish-brown fur, an elongated body and neck, and short legs
- informal a sly or treacherous person
- mainly US a motor vehicle for use in snow, esp one with caterpillar tracks
Word Origin for weasel
"to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning," 1900, from weasel (n.); so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact; the sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956.
Old English weosule, wesle "weasel," from Proto-Germanic *wisulon (cf. Old Norse visla, Middle Dutch wesel, Dutch wezel, Old High German wisula, German Wiesel), probably related to Proto-Germanic *wisand- "bison" (see bison), with a base sense of "stinking animal," because both animals have a foul, musky smell (cf. Latin vissio "stench"). A John Wesilheued ("John Weaselhead") turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384, but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason.
Back out of a situation or commitment, especially in a sneaky way. For example, I'd love to weasel out of serving on the board. This expression alludes to the stealthy hunting and nesting habits of the weasel, a small, slender-bodied predator. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]