squirrel

1 of 2

noun

squir·​rel ˈskwər(-ə)l How to pronounce squirrel (audio)
ˈskwə-rəl,
 chiefly British  ˈskwir-əl
plural squirrels also squirrel
1
: any of various small or medium-sized rodents (family Sciuridae, the squirrel family): such as
a
: any of numerous New or Old World arboreal forms having a long bushy tail and strong hind legs
2
: the fur of a squirrel

squirrel

2 of 2

verb

squirreled or squirrelled; squirreling or squirrelling

transitive verb

: to store up for future use
often used with away
squirrel away some money

Examples of squirrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The camera provides a view of at least four feeders, bowls of food, a bird bath and even miniature picnic tables and benches for songbirds and squirrels. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 1 Apr. 2024 Another poster was shocked to find squirrel on the menu. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 29 Mar. 2024 The citizen project calls for observations from all sorts of environments, including cities with pigeons and squirrels, mountain ecosystems with woodland critters, farms with livestock, and more. Taylor Nicioli, CNN, 13 Mar. 2024 Glue traps — boards coated with an adhesive meant to entrap rodents — have ensnared birds, bats, chipmunks, lizards, opossums, mice, rabbits, salamanders, snakes, turtles and even flying squirrels, Shaw said, citing the WILD-ONe database, created by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 2024 For stealing her heart. Which flowers do squirrels give each other on Valentine’s Day? Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 1 Feb. 2024 The Southern magnolia tree's fruit attracts squirrels, rabbits, and various kinds of birds. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 22 Mar. 2024 In addition to coyotes, hunting contests have targeted bobcats, foxes, crows, squirrels and many other animals that lack the strict regulations applied to traditional game animals such as deer and elk. Tribune News Service, Orange County Register, 2 Feb. 2024 Jensen Breed: Lab mix Age: 3 Jensen is a loyal, goofy sidekick who is up for hanging out at home, going for long walks or leading the squirrel patrol in the backyard. Stephanie Baillargeon-McCurry and, Kansas City Star, 6 Mar. 2024
Verb
Every squirrel has a science story to tell, but, sadly, squirrels vastly outnumber squirrel scientists. Scistarter Team, Discover Magazine, 21 Jan. 2024 Freelancers, aware of this, try to squirrel some of their fees away throughout the year to see them through to March, when productions start crewing up again. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 25 May 2023 When news of a young boy being abducted from Brooklyn starts to make the rounds on the news, Inez squirrels the boy away in a rented room and gets him some fake papers. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 29 Mar. 2023 Many were able to squirrel away more during the pandemic when shops, hospitality and entertainment venues were closed. Tom Rees, Bloomberg.com, 11 Feb. 2023 The student loan moratorium put in place in March 2020 has had a number of benefits: Many federal student loan borrowers were able to squirrel away more savings, pay down other forms of debt, make on-time payment for monthly bills, and some even saw a boost in their credit scores. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 22 Mar. 2022 Essentially, boosting margins allows companies to squirrel away more capital. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 16 Jan. 2023 More than 35,000 people have helped observe and classify squirrel coat color with SquirrelMapper. Brielle Fischman, Discover Magazine, 9 Feb. 2021 For others, income may not keep pace with rising costs, leaving them less to squirrel away. Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'squirrel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English squirel, from Anglo-French escurel, esquirel, from Vulgar Latin *scuriolus, diminutive of scurius, alteration of Latin *sciurus, from Greek skiouros, probably from skia shadow + oura tail — more at shine, ass

Verb

from the squirrel's habit of storing up gathered nuts and seeds for winter use

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1925, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of squirrel was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near squirrel

Cite this Entry

“Squirrel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squirrel. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

squirrel

1 of 2 noun
squir·​rel ˈskwər(-ə)l How to pronounce squirrel (audio)
ˈskwə-rəl
plural squirrels also squirrel
1
: any of various small or medium-sized rodents
especially : one with a long bushy tail and strong hind legs used especially for leaping from tree branch to tree branch
2
: the fur of a squirrel

squirrel

2 of 2 verb
squirreled or squirrelled; squirreling or squirrelling
: to store up for future use
often used with away
squirreled away all his spare change
Etymology

Noun

Middle English squirel "squirrel," from early French esquirel (same meaning), derived from Latin sciurus (same meaning), from Greek skiouros "squirrel," from skia "shadow" and oura "tail"

Word Origin
When a squirrel sits up to eat or to look around, it often raises its bushy tail up against its back and over its head as if to shade itself. The ancient Greeks noticed this habit, and they called the animal skiouros. This word was made up of skia, meaning "shadow," and oura, "tail." The Romans turned this into the Latin word sciurus, which made its way into early French as esquirel. English squirrel was borrowed from the French.

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