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mustelid (n.)

"animal of the family of mammals that includes the weasels, badgers, skunks, and otters," 1910, from Modern Latin Mustelidae, taken as a genus name by Linnaeus (1758), from Latin mustela "weasel," which is possibly a diminutive form from mus "mouse" (see mouse (n.)), a theory accepted by de Vaan, who writes, "The use of the dim. for the weasel can be due to its small size compared with other similar animals (marten, polecat) or because it was domesticated and used as a pet animal." Tucker tentatively suggests *mus-ters-la "mouse harrier," and Klein notes that the weasel was identified in antiquity as "the catcher of mice."

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