nounpl. -·mines or -·mine
- any of several northern weasels having brown fur in summer and white fur with a black-tipped tail in winter, as the stoat
- the soft, white fur of this animal, used for women's coats, trimming, etc.
- the position, rank, or functions of some European judges or peers, whose state robe is trimmed with ermine
- Heraldry a representation of a fur indicated by black spots on a white field
Origin of ermineMiddle English and Old French ermin; Old French ermine, hermine, probably from Middle High German hermin, erminelike from harme, ermine from Old High German harmo, weasel (OE hearma): influenced, influence by folk-etym. associated, association with Classical Latin (mus) Armenius, Armenian (mouse)
- A weasel (Mustela erminea) native to northern regions, having a black-tipped tail and dark brown fur that in winter changes to white. Also called stoat .
- The commercially valuable white fur of this animal.
Origin of ermineMiddle English ermin from Old French ermine, hermine possibly of Germanic origin ( compare Old High German harmīn of ermine ) ( from harmo ermine ) ( akin to Lithuanian šarma hoarfrost ) ( and šermuo, šarmuo ermine (the ermine being the animal with the “snowy” white coat) ) or from Latin Armenius Armenian ( from the medieval belief that ermine pelts came from Armenia and were obtained from a furry animal that Pliny the Elder called in Latin mūs Pontica literally “Pontic mouse,” once thought to be the ermine )
(third-person singular simple present ermines, present participle ermining, simple past and past participle ermined)
- To clothe with ermine
From Middle English ermine, ermin, ermyn, from Old French ermin, ermine, hermine, from Old Dutch *harmino ‘stoat skin’, from *harmo ‘stoat, weasel’ (compare Dutch dialectal herm), from Proto-Germanic *harmōn (compare Old English hearma, Old High German harmo (adj. harmin, obsolete German Harm), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱormon (compare Romansch carmun, obsolete Lithuanian šarmuõ).
Note: The supposed derivation from Medieval Latin mūs Armenius (“Armenian mouse”) is without any foundation.