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squirrel

[skwur-uh l, skwuhr- or, esp. British, skwir-uh l]
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noun, plural squir·rels, (especially collectively) squir·rel.
  1. any of numerous arboreal, bushy-tailed rodents of the genus Sciurus, of the family Sciuridae.
  2. any of various other members of the family Sciuridae, as the chipmunks, flying squirrels, and woodchucks.
  3. the meat of such an animal.
  4. the pelt or fur of such an animal: a coat trimmed with squirrel.
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verb (used with object), squir·reled, squir·rel·ing or (especially British) squir·relled, squir·rel·ling.
  1. to store or hide (money, valuables, etc.), usually for the future (often followed by away): I've squirreled away a few dollars for an emergency.
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Origin of squirrel

1325–75; Middle English squirel < Anglo-French escuirel (Old French escuireul) ≪ Vulgar Latin *scūrellus, *scūriolus, representing Latin sciurus (< Greek skíouros literally, shadow-tailed (ski(á) shadow + -ouros, adj. derivative of ourá tail); apparently so called because the tail was large enough to provide shade for the rest of the animal) with diminutive suffixes -ellus, -olus
Related formssquir·rel·ish, squir·rel·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for squirrel

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You been seein' that squirrel that's been runnin' across the clearin'?

  • The next time that squirrel comes scootin' across I'll say, 'Now!'

  • I think that squirrel will stop in the woods for the rest of its life, Peter.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • The squirrel is provident, but no more so than he is fastidious in the choice of his food.

  • He waited until he was sure of striking before the squirrel could gain a tree-refuge.

    White Fang

    Jack London


British Dictionary definitions for squirrel

squirrel

noun plural -rels or -rel
  1. any arboreal sciurine rodent of the genus Sciurus, such as S. vulgaris (red squirrel) or S. carolinensis (grey squirrel), having a bushy tail and feeding on nuts, seeds, etcRelated adjective: sciurine
  2. any other rodent of the family Sciuridae, such as a ground squirrel or a marmot
  3. the fur of such an animal
  4. informal a person who hoards things
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verb -rels, -relling or -relled or esp US -rels, -reling or -reled
  1. (tr usually foll by away) informal to store for future use; hoard
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Derived Formssquirrel-like, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French esquireul, from Late Latin sciūrus, from Greek skiouros, from skia shadow + oura tail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for squirrel

n.

early 14c., from Anglo-French esquirel, Old French escurel (Modern French écureuil), from Vulgar Latin *scuriolus, diminutive of *scurius "squirrel," variant of Latin sciurus, from Greek skiouros "a squirrel," literally "shadow-tailed," from skia "shadow" (see shine (v.)) + oura "tail." Perhaps the original notion is "that which makes a shade with its tail." The Old English word was acweorna, which survived into Middle English as aquerne.

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v.

"to hoard up, store away" (as a squirrel does nuts), 1939, from squirrel (n.). Related: Squirreled; squirreling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper