1 : to hunt game with ferrets
2 : to drive out of a hiding place
3 : to find and bring to light by searching — usually used with out
Did You Know?
Since the 14th century, English speakers have used ferret as the name of a small domesticated animal of the weasel family. The word came to us by way of Anglo-French and can be traced back to Latin fur, meaning "thief." These days ferrets are often kept as pets, but previously they were used to hunt rabbits, rats, and other vermin, and to drive them from their underground burrows. By the 15th century, the verb ferret was being used of the action of hunting with ferrets. By the late 16th century, the verb had taken on figurative uses as well. Today, we most frequently encounter the verb ferret in the sense of "to find and bring to light by searching."
"Quarantining was invented during the first wave of bubonic plague in the 14th century, but it was deployed more systematically during the Great Plague [of London, 1665-1666]. Public servants called searchers ferreted out new cases of plague, and quarantined sick people along with everyone who shared their homes.'" — Annalee Newitz, The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2020
"For more than 40 years, journalist Robert Fisk has reported on some of the most violent and divisive conflicts in the world. Yung Chang's This Is Not a Movie captures Fisk in action—feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions." — Craig Thornton, WWNYtv.com (Watertown, New York), 29 June 2020
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
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What hyphenated animal's name means "to watch closely" or "to seek out"?VIEW THE ANSWER
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