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chipmunk

[chip-muhngk]
noun
  1. any of several small, striped, terrestrial squirrels of the genera Tamias, of North America, and Eutamia, of Asia and North America, especially T. striatus, of eastern North America.
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Origin of chipmunk

1825–35, Americanism; assimilated variant of earlier chitmunk, apparently < Ojibwa ačitamo·nʔ red squirrel, equivalent to ačit- headfirst, face-down + derivational elements; so called from the squirrel's manner of descending trees
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for chipmunk

chipmunk

noun
  1. any burrowing sciurine rodent of the genera Tamias of E North America and Eutamias of W North America and Asia, typically having black-striped yellowish fur and cheek pouches for storing food
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Word Origin

C19: of Algonquian origin; compare Ojibwa atchitamon squirrel, literally: headfirst, referring to its method of descent from trees
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 chipmunk

n.

1829 (also chitmunk, 1832), from Algonquian, probably Ojibwa ajidamoo (in the Ottawa dialect ajidamoonh) "red squirrel," literally "head first," or "one who descends trees headlong" (containing ajid- "upside down"), probably influenced by English chip and mink. Other early names for it included ground squirrel and striped squirrel.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper