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[skwur-uh l, skwuhr- or, esp. British, skwir-uh l] /ˈskwɜr əl, ˈskwʌr- or, esp. British, ˈskwɪr əl/
noun, plural squirrels (especially collectively) squirrel.
any of numerous arboreal, bushy-tailed rodents of the genus Sciurus, of the family Sciuridae.
any of various other members of the family Sciuridae, as the chipmunks, flying squirrels, and woodchucks.
the meat of such an animal.
the pelt or fur of such an animal:
a coat trimmed with squirrel.
verb (used with object), squirreled, squirreling or (especially British) squirrelled, squirrelling.
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.
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 forms
squirrelish, squirrellike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for squirrel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You been seein' that squirrel that's been runnin' across the clearin'?

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • The next time that squirrel comes scootin' across I'll say, 'Now!'

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • 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.

    Life: Its True Genesis R. W. Wright
  • 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


/ˈskwɪrəl; US ˈskwɜːrəl; ˈskwʌr-/
noun (pl) -rels, -rel
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, etc related adjective sciurine
any other rodent of the family Sciuridae, such as a ground squirrel or a marmot
the fur of such an animal
(informal) a person who hoards things
verb -rels, -relling, -relled especially (US) -rels, -reling, -reled
(informal) (transitive) usually foll by away. to store for future use; hoard
Derived Forms
squirrel-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
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Word Origin and History for squirrel

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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for squirrel



  1. A crazy or eccentric person; nut, weirdo: I seen some squirrels in my life, but you got 'em all beat (1940s+)
  2. A hesitant or confused hot-rod driver (1950s+ Hot rodders)


  1. (also squirrel away)To hoard or cache something; hide and save something for later (1939+)
  2. To weave about the road while driving, esp a hot rod (1950s+ Hot rodders)

Related Terms

seam squirrel

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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