ferret out


noun

  1. a domesticated, usually red-eyed, and albinic variety of the polecat, used in Europe for driving rabbits and rats from their burrows.
  2. black-footed ferret.

verb (used with object)

  1. to drive out by using or as if using a ferret (often followed by out): to ferret rabbits from their burrows; to ferret out enemies.
  2. to hunt with ferrets.
  3. to hunt over with ferrets: to ferret a field.
  4. to search out, discover, or bring to light (often followed by out): to ferret out the facts.
  5. to harry, worry, or torment: His problems ferreted him day and night.

verb (used without object)

  1. to search about.

noun

  1. a domesticated albino variety of the polecat Mustela putorius, bred for hunting rats, rabbits, etc
  2. an assiduous searcher
  3. black-footed ferret a musteline mammal, Mustela nigripes, of W North America, closely related to the weasels

verb -rets, -reting or -reted

  1. to hunt (rabbits, rats, etc) with ferrets
  2. (tr usually foll by out) to drive from hidingto ferret out snipers
  3. (tr usually foll by out) to find by persistent investigation
  4. (intr) to search around

noun

  1. silk binding tape
v.

early 15c., from ferret (n.), in reference to the use of half-tame ferrets to kill rats and flush rabbits from burrows; the extended sense of “search out, discover” is 1570s. Related: Ferreted; ferreting.

n.

late 14c., from Old French furet, diminutive of fuiron “weasel, ferret,” literally “thief,” probably from Late Latin furionem (related to furonem “cat,” also “robber”), from Latin fur (genitive furis) “thief.”

Uncover and bring to light by searching, as in Sandy was a superb reporter, tireless in ferreting out whatever facts were needed for her story. This expression alludes to hunting with ferrets, weasel-like animals formerly used to drive rabbits out of their burrows. [c. 1600]

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