ermine


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ermine,

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.

Ermine

 

(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).

REFERENCE

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

ermine

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

ermine

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

ermine

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 classic literature ?
All the old ladies in both families had got out their faded sables and yellowing ermines, and the smell of camphor from the front pews almost smothered the faint spring scent of the lilies banking the altar.
When I walk out I can't hop and run; I must strut on my rear legs and wear an ermine robe
A red cloak trimmed with beautiful ermine hung from his shoulders and upon his back was a basket filled with pretty presents for the Princess Ozma.
Mamma won't have it cut up, and my ermine one must be kept for best;" and Fanny smoothed her Bismark kids with an injured air.
When the Blotted Escutcheon had resumed his seat a Soiled Ermine rose and said:
This is the best of silk and camel's hair, real ostrich feathers, and an expensive ermine muff.
Where all this difference then between the ermine cloak and the leathern tunic, if what they cover is the same?
So the Queen placed a big crown of gold, set with rubies, upon Evardo's head, and threw an ermine robe over his shoulders, and proclaimed him King; and he bowed gratefully to all his subjects and then went away to see if he could find any cake in the royal pantry.
There was Mrs Lenville, in a very limp bonnet and veil, decidedly in that way in which she would wish to be if she truly loved Mr Lenville; there was Miss Gazingi, with an imitation ermine boa tied in a loose knot round her neck, flogging Mr Crummles, junior, with both ends, in fun.
I know the Misses Osborne were excellent critics of a Cashmere shawl, or a pink satin slip; and when Miss Turner had hers dyed purple, and made into a spencer; and when Miss Pickford had her ermine tippet twisted into a muff and trimmings, I warrant you the changes did not escape the two intelligent young women before mentioned.
Lucille, after all, do you wonder that the police are looking for a woman in black with an ermine toque?
I had bought a considerable quantity of sables, black fox-skins, fine ermines, and such other furs as are very rich in that city, in exchange for some of the goods I had brought from China; in particular for the cloves and nutmegs, of which I sold the greatest part here, and the rest afterwards at Archangel, for a much better price than I could have got at London; and my partner, who was sensible of the profit, and whose business, more particularly than mine, was merchandise, was mightily pleased with our stay, on account of the traffic we made here.