noun, plural mon·goos·es.
- a slender, ferretlike carnivore, Herpestes edwardsi, of India, that feeds on rodents, birds, and eggs, noted especially for its ability to kill cobras and other venomous snakes.
- any of several other animals of this genus or related genera.
noun plural -gooses
- any small predatory viverrine mammal of the genus Herpestes and related genera, occurring in Africa and from S Europe to SE Asia, typically having a long tail and brindled coat
n.“snake-killing ichneumon of India,” 1690s, perhaps via Portuguese, from an Indic language (cf. Mahrathi mangus “mongoose”), probably ultimately from Dravidian (cf. Telugu mangisu, Kanarese mungisi, Tamil mangus). The form of the English word altered by folk-etymology.