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name for a number of northern species of weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
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 having white coats in winter, and highly prized for their white fur. It most commonly refers to the white phase of Mustela erminea, called short-tailed weasel in North America and stoat in the Old World. The white pelts are made into wraps, coats, and trimmings. The black-tipped tails are used in the United States as ornament, and in Europe they were used with the ermine of royal robes.



(Mustela erminea), a valuable fur-bearing animal of the family Mustelidae. In summer the fur is rusty brown and in winter, snow-white; the tip of the tail is black year-round. The male’s body is about 25 cm long (the female’s is somewhat shorter), and the tail reaches 10 cm.

The ermine is widely distributed in Europe, Asia, and North America; it is found in almost the entire territory of the USSR, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to approximately the deserts of Middle Asia. The animal lives most often in river valleys, near lakes or reed thickets, but it is also found in forests, coppices, mines, and fields. Sometimes the ermine settles near human dwellings. It is extremely mobile: it swims and climbs trees. Its prey is usually murine rodents and small birds. Sometimes it attacks larger animals, such as the caper-caillie or rabbit.

The ermine mates during the second half of the summer, but the embryo begins to form at the end of the winter; the young are born in the spring. Ermines usually produce five to eight offspring (sometimes more). They are born blind and almost bare; their eyes open within approximately 30 days; by the end of the summer the young reach sexual maturity. In years when there are few rodents, the number of ermines decrease. They are useful in eradicating murine rodents. Ermines are hunted (their fur is used for decoration).


Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Edited by V. G. Geptner and N. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1967.


fur which represents nobility. [Heraldry: Halberts, 13]
See: Dignity


winter stoat; said to die if whiteness is soiled. [Art: Hall, 115]


1. the stoat in northern regions, where it has a white winter coat with a black-tipped tail
2. the fur of this animal
3. the dignity or office of a judge, noble, or king
References in periodicals archive ?
A worryingly large number finished up parking their well-upholstered, ermined bums on the Lords' red leather seats.
Every time aspects of Diana's life are aired in public and new "revelations" are made, it is followed by lengthy recriminations between those who wish to protect her reputation at all costs and those who do not wish to see Prince Charles's reputation und ermined any more than it has been already.
I DON'T object to the early release of Tory jailbirds, Lords Hanningfield and Taylor - but I do baulk at the ermined expenses' cheats resuming seats as unelected lawmakers.
But, however strange it must seem to them, the House of Lords is not a typical workplace, and from my experience of life in London those who want to see the Wales and the Assembly prosper will vastly outnumber the ermined exiles.
A worry-ingly large number finished up parking their well-upholstered, ermined bums on the Lords' red leather seats.
But still, I ask myself, is it wise to have the leader of the House of Lords, M'Lady Jay, leading the Labour charge against Lord Lauderdale and the other ermined idiots whose ancestors bought, fought or slept their way into the Upper Chamber.
Paul Adams also hit a det ermined 27 before being caught behind off wholehearted seamer Dean to atone for his earlier error in dropping Cronje in the deep off Roberts when he had made a mere 150.
Having ditched the ermined ones, the new chamber will be a dog's breakfast, specifically designed to be no competition at all to the indigestible fare dished up in the Commons.
Why couldn't the Queen stay at home with the corgis instead of being dragged out to perform a pointless ritual in front of that bunch of ermined clowns and brown noses -in -waiting?