This word derives from vermin, which is itself used as a reproachful form of address, but an expression like ‘you young varmint’ means little more than ‘you bad boy’. It is mostly applied, in fact, to a mischievous child, especially a boy, but is little heard in standard English on either side of the Atlantic.
   It is one of the words which writers of children’s stories keep alive, putting it into the mouths of colourful country characters. ‘Hands off me, ye meddlesome varmint!’ says a father to his young son, in Jennifer, by Janet Whitney.
   It is used with more force in Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. At one point Scarlett says to Rhett Butler: ‘You get out of this buggy, you dirty-minded varmint’ Laurie Lee, in Cider with Rosie, has an old lady who says to some village girls: ‘You baggages! You jumped-up varmints! Be off, or I’ll fetch me broom.’

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

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  • varmint — /vahr meuhnt/, n. 1. Chiefly Southern and South Midland U.S. a. vermin. b. an objectionable or undesirable animal, usually predatory, as a coyote or bobcat. 2. a despicable, obnoxious, or annoying person. Also, varment. [1530 40; var. of VERMIN… …   Universalium

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