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meerkat, noun

Origin:
South African Dutch, Dutch, AfrikaansShow more South African Dutch, transferred use of Dutch meerkat a long-tailed monkey of the Cercopithecidae, meer sea, ocean + kat cat; meer is sometimes an erroneous translation of ‘ant’ or ‘termite’ (cf. modern Afrikaans mier), see mierkat.
Any of several small mammals, especially the suricate: 1. (Viverridae family) a. The suricate, Suricata suricatta. b. Any of several species of mongoose, especially the yellow mongoose Cynictis penicillata and the banded mongoose Mungos mungo; cf. muishond sense 1 b. 2. The ground squirrel Xerus inauris of the Sciuridae. 3. The muishond (sense 1 a i), Ictonyx striatus. In all senses also called ant-cat, meercat (sense 1), mier-cat, mierkat. Also attributive, and (formerly) meerkatje, meerkatjie [see -ie].
1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 343The holes of the Aardvark, those of the Springhaas (Springhare), and Meerkatje (Weasel), were very frequent.
1994 M. Roberts tr. of J.A. Wahlberg’s Trav. Jrnls 1838–56 64Took a shot at a meerkat.
The suricate, Suricata suricatta.
Any of several species of mongoose, especially the yellow mongoose Cynictis penicillata and the banded mongoose Mungos mungo;
The ground squirrel Xerus inauris of the Sciuridae.
The muishond (sense 1 a i), Ictonyx striatus. In all senses also called ant-cat, meercat (sense 1), mier-cat, mierkat. Also attributive, and (formerly) meerkatje, meerkatjiesee -ie.

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18221994