ermine

ermine
ermined, adj.
/err"min/, n., pl. ermines, (esp. collectively) ermine, adj.
n.
1. an Old World weasel, Mustela erminea, having in its winter color phase a white coat with black at the tip of the tail. Cf. stoat.
2. any of various weasels having a white winter coat.
3. the lustrous, white, winter fur of the ermine, often having fur from the animal's black tail tip inserted at intervals for contrast.
4. the rank, position, or status of a king, peer, or judge, esp. one in certain European countries who wears, or formerly wore, a robe trimmed with ermine, as on official or state occasions.
5. Heraldry. a fur, consisting of a conventional representation of tails, often with a pattern of dots, sable on argent.
adj.
6. made of, covered, or adorned with ermine.
[1150-1200; ME < OF (h)ermine, n. use of fem. of (h)ermin (masc. adj.) < L Armenius, short for Armenius (mus) Armenian (rat)]

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Species of the weasel family (Mustela erminea).

Its white winter coat has historically adorned royal robes and is still used in the fur trade. Ermines are found in North America and northern Eurasia. They are most abundant in thickets, woodland, and semitimbered areas. In summer they are brown, with whitish throat, chest, and belly. Species are 5–12 in. (13–29 cm) long (excluding the 2–5-in., or 5–12-cm, tail) and weigh less than 11 oz (0.3 kg). Voracious carnivores, ermines feed on small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, and, occasionally, invertebrates.

Ermine (Mustela erminea)

© Charlie Ott
The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

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mammal
 any of several northern weasel (q.v.) species of the genus Mustela, family Mustelidae, called ermine especially during the winter-white colour phase; this white coat is the ermine of the fur trade.

      The species that furnished the ermine for royal robes in Europe was the stoat (M. erminea), also called short-tailed weasel, or Bonaparte weasel. The ermine, or stoat, is found in northern North America, in Eurasia, and in North Africa. Ermines are most abundant in thickets, woodland, and semitimbered areas. These slender, agile, voracious mammals measure 13 to 29 cm (5 to 12 inches) in head and body length; have a tail length of 5 to 12 cm; and weigh less than 0.3 kg (0.66 pound). Females are smaller than males, and northern races smaller than southern.

      In summer the ermine is brown, with whitish throat, chest, and belly. In colder climates the winter coat is white, except for the black tail tip. In moderately cold climates the fur becomes only partly white.

      Ermines feed on small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, and occasional invertebrates. Small prey is seized at the base of the skull, larger prey by the throat. The litter contains 3 to 13 young, born after a gestation prolonged as much as 10 months because of delayed implantation in the wall of the uterus.

      The winter-taken pelts, prized for fineness and pure colour, are among the most valuable of commercial furs (fur) and are obtained mainly in northern Eurasia. During the reign of Edward III (1327–77) of England, the wearing of ermine was restricted to members of the royal family. Thereafter, state robes were constructed in such a way that in many cases the rank and position of the wearer could be determined by the presence or absence and the disposition of the black spots.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
(Mustela erminea) / / / , (white ground spotted with black)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ermine — Er mine, n. [OF. ermine, F. hermine, prob. of German origin; cf. OHG. harmo, G. hermelin, akin to Lith. szarm?, szarmonys, weasel, cf. AS. hearma; but cf. also LL. armelinus, armellina, hermellina, and pellis Armenia, the fur of the Armenian rat …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ermine — [ʉr′min] n. pl. ermines or ermine [ME & OFr ermin; OFr ermine, hermine, prob. < MHG hermin, erminelike < harme, ermine < OHG harmo, weasel (OE hearma): infl. by folk etym. assoc. with L ( mus) Armenius, Armenian (mouse)] 1. any of… …   English World dictionary

  • ermine — late 12c., from O.Fr. ermine (12c., Mod.Fr. hermine), both the animal and the fur, apparently from a convergence of L. (mus) Armenius Armenian (mouse), ermines being abundant in Asia Minor; and an unrelated Germanic word for weasel (Cf. O.H.G.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Ermine — Er mine, v. t. To clothe with, or as with, ermine. [1913 Webster] The snows that have ermined it in the winter. Lowell. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ermine — f English: in origin perhaps a variant of HERMINE (SEE Hermine), but strongly influenced in popularity by association with the name of the fur (Old French ermine, medieval Latin armēnius (mūs) Armenian mouse) …   First names dictionary

  • ermine — Ermine, Mus ponticus. Vide Harmol. Corol …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • ermine — ► NOUN (pl. same or ermines) 1) a stoat. 2) the white winter fur of the stoat, used for trimming the ceremonial robes of judges or peers. ORIGIN Old French hermine, probably from Latin mus Armenius Armenian mouse …   English terms dictionary

  • Ermine — Taxobox name = Ermine (or Stoat) status = LR/lc | status system = IUCN2.3 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Carnivora familia = Mustelidae subfamilia = Mustelinae genus = Mustela species = M. erminea binomial = Mustela …   Wikipedia

  • ermine — /ˈɜmən / (say ermuhn) noun (plural ermines, ermine) 1. the white colour phase of Mustela erminea, a small carnivore of the weasel family found in Europe, Asia and North America; the brown colour phase is called the stoat. Compare stoat. 2. the… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • ermine — noun (plural ermines) Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French hermin, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German harmo weasel Date: 12th century 1. or plural ermine a. any of several weasels whose coats become white in winter usually with… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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