squir·​rel | \ ˈskwər(-ə)l How to pronounce squirrel (audio) , ˈskwə-rəl, chiefly British ˈskwir-əl \
plural squirrels also squirrel

Definition of squirrel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


squirreled or squirrelled; squirreling or squirrelling

Definition of squirrel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Examples of squirrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But in 2015 a related type of bornavirus found in exotic squirrels was implicated in at least four human deaths. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Virus Spread by Shrews Linked to Human Deaths from Mysterious Brain Infections," 8 Jan. 2020 Yet most urban coyotes still eat a lot of wild prey—particularly rabbits and squirrels—instead of trash or human food. National Geographic, "Coyotes have expanded their range to 49 states—and show no signs of stopping.," 29 Nov. 2019 Its annual nut crop provides food for birds, squirrels, and deer. Gabriel Popkin, Science | AAAS, "A mysterious disease is striking American beech trees," 14 Nov. 2019 Keep feeders at least 10 feet from branches and rooflines to prevent squirrels from leaping on them. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "How to Attract More Birds to Your Garden This Winter," 28 Oct. 2019 Some of the animals housed at the center include black bear cubs, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, javelinas, skunks, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and porcupines. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "Rabbits, bears and bobcats: How has the Woodbury Fire affected Arizona wildlife habitat?," 26 June 2019 On the opposite side of the room, a wall of oversized windows and sliding-glass doors gives way to a patio, which occasionally accommodates drying laundry, and usually hosts birds and squirrels — who dine al fresco courtesy of Whitley. Karen Robinson-jacobs, latimes.com, "Actress-comedienne Kym Whitley pictures family in her den," 8 June 2019 No word on what happened to the squirrel but the church has gotten in on the fun with its Facebook video. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Squirrel got loose in an Alabama church and no, that’s not a country song," 28 Oct. 2019 The squirrels around Holly and Chris Persic's home seem to be stocking up for the winter by taking walnuts from their yard in Pittsburgh and shoving them under the hood of their car. Maddie Capron And Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "What happened to this car is nuts. 200 walnuts, to be exact," 8 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These days, Shani no longer needs to squirrel away her patties. Hilary Cadigan, Bon Appétit, "Home Is Where the Jamaican Beef Patties Are," 7 Jan. 2020 Historically this was a steady paying job, so people didn’t always feel the need to squirrel away. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, "Coast Guard Members Are Caught in Shutdown," 16 Jan. 2019 Establishment of the second fund to pay for insurance costs – an action specifically allowed under Ohio law, would allow the city to squirrel away another 5%, $32 million. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Cleveland looks to create a second $32M reserve fund to cover self-insurance claims, uninsured losses and payouts," 19 Nov. 2019 Fortunes aren’t made by squirreling away pennies in savings accounts. Chris Hughes | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Oxford, Please Don’t Blow Schwarzman’s Millions," 19 June 2019 The firm also offers a savings product that automatically squirrels away funds, but pays no interest. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "How Fintech’s Third Wave Will Change How You Bank," 13 Nov. 2019 But President Roosevelt's eight-year-old son, Archie, supposedly snuck a wee tree upstairs past his dad, squirreling it away in a sewing room closet. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "The White House Christmas Tree Tradition Goes Back Farther Than You Might Think," 19 Sep. 2019 Today's bars lean in on nut butters for texture and flavor, and the BA staff has been known to squirrel away Big Spoon Roasters, ProBars, and Perfect Bars in our desk drawers. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "That Nut Butter Bar You're Obsessed With Is Easy to Make at Home," 10 Sep. 2019 To gauge eastern grays’ sensitivity to bird conversations, Tarvin and then-undergraduates Marie Lilly and Emma Lucore designed an experiment centered on Oberlin’s squirrel population. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Squirrels Eavesdrop on Birds to Check If Danger Has Passed," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'squirrel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of squirrel


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1925, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for squirrel


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


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

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Time Traveler for squirrel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for squirrel

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Squirrel.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/squirrel. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for squirrel


How to pronounce squirrel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of squirrel

: a small animal with a long tail and soft fur that lives in trees


squir·​rel | \ ˈskwər-əl How to pronounce squirrel (audio) \

Kids Definition of squirrel

: a small gnawing animal that is a rodent usually with a bushy tail and soft fur and strong hind legs used especially for leaping among tree branches

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More from Merriam-Webster on squirrel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with squirrel

Spanish Central: Translation of squirrel

Nglish: Translation of squirrel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of squirrel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about squirrel

Comments on squirrel

What made you want to look up squirrel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

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