noun, plural er·mines, (especially collectively) er·mine.

  1. an Old World weasel, Mustela erminea, having in its winter color phase a white coat with black at the tip of the tail.Compare stoat.
  2. any of various weasels having a white winter coat.
  3. the lustrous, white, winter fur of the ermine, often having fur from the animal’s black tail tip inserted at intervals for contrast.
  4. the rank, position, or status of a king, peer, or judge, especially one in certain European countries who wears, or formerly wore, a robe trimmed with ermine, as on official or state occasions.
  5. Heraldry. a fur, consisting of a conventional representation of tails, often with a pattern of dots, sable on argent.


  1. made of, covered, or adorned with ermine.

noun plural -mines or -mine

  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. one of the two principal furs used on heraldic shields, conventionally represented by a white field flecked with black ermine tailsCompare vair
  4. the dignity or office of a judge, noble, or king
  5. short for ermine moth

late 12c., from Old French ermine (12c., Modern French hermine), both the animal and the fur, apparently from a convergence of Latin (mus) Armenius “Armenian (mouse),” ermines being abundant in Asia Minor; and an unrelated Germanic word for “weasel” (cf. Old High German harmo “ermine, stoat, weasel,” adj. harmin; Old Saxon harmo, Old English hearma “shrew,” etc.) that happened to sound like it.

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