Definition of gerbil in US English:



  • 1A burrowing mouse-like rodent that is specially adapted to living in arid conditions, found in Africa and Asia.

    Subfamily Gerbillinae, family Muridae: several genera, in particular Gerbillus

    • ‘At school, our classroom had a small rodent zoo consisting of two rabbits, three hamsters, a litter of baby gerbils and a guinea pig.’
    • ‘While most of us are all too willing to cuddle guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, pet mice and even ferrets, brown rats produce a reaction of almost universal revulsion.’
    • ‘According to Dr. Ritzman, gerbils are capable of living in either same-gender or mixed-gender groups but may fight if crowded or mixed as adults.’
    • ‘In this study we measured the strategy-specific foraging traits of gerbils under both laboratory conditions and in the field.’
    • ‘Although allergies to cats are the most common, people can also be allergic to dogs and small animals such as gerbils and guinea pigs.’
  • 2

    another term for jird


Mid 19th century: from French gerbille, from modern Latin gerbillus, diminutive of gerboa (see jerboa).