Definition of civet in English:


(also civet cat)

Pronunciation /ˈsivət/ /ˈsɪvət/

See synonyms for civet on

Translate civet into Spanish


  • 1A slender nocturnal carnivorous mammal with a barred and spotted coat and well-developed anal scent glands, native to Africa and Asia.

    Family Viverridae (the civet family): several genera and species, in particular the African civet (Viverra civetta). The civet family also includes the genets, linsang, and fossa, and formerly included the mongooses

    ‘The main suspect to date is the civet cat, a cat-like mammal closely related to the mongoose.’
    • ‘This includes the civet cat which is known to be a carrier of the disease.’
    • ‘So it's not a virus that every Himalayan palm civet has always had and is chronically infected with.’
    • ‘On behalf of all civet cats I have to register a protest.’
    • ‘On coffee plantations, palm civets dine heavily on coffee cherries.’
    1. 1.1A strong musky perfume obtained from the secretions of the civet's scent glands.
      ‘During the Renaissances strong scents of animal origin, including musk, civet and ambergris, were popular, but by the late 18th century these were consider too strong, too beastly.’
      • ‘The secretion of these glands, called civet, is used as a perfume base and medicine..’
      • ‘Theatre became less serious and more sensational; the great national concerns gave way to domestic intrigue; the smell of cowslips and violets to musk and civet, if not in reality then in the imagery of the plays.’
      • ‘In the sixteenth century, for example, pungent animal scents such as musk and civet were very popular.’
      • ‘Silk, cotton, and velvet changed what people wore, and musk and civet altered the way that they smelt.’
  • 2US The ring-tailed cat or cacomistle.


Mid 16th century from French civette, from Italian zibetto, from medieval Latin zibethum, from Arabic zabād, denoting the perfume.