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 away squirrel away some money

Examples of squirrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Earlier this year, for example, a pair of giant multicolored squirrels went viral after they were caught on camera. Fox News, "Bizarre 'bright orange' bird is not so exotic, wildlife hospital discovers," 10 July 2019 Another memorable one was when a father and daughter came to him to get a tattoo of a squirrel wearing a tiara while holding a peanut. Adriana Ramirez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "An Army veteran who was captivated by tattoos as a child is the owner of the first tattoo shop in Grafton," 10 July 2019 Lawmakers in the Capitol questioned reports of ravenous squirrels Tuesday, blocking officials in charge of the KentuckyWired project from borrowing an additional $110 million. USA TODAY, "Child rock climber, baby doll scare, real-life RoboCop: News from around our 50 states," 20 June 2019 Tuesday’s selection included an illustration of a man’s head shooting off into space, a pencil pouch made of a taxidermy squirrel, and McDonald’s fries photoshopped to look like they’d been covered in Swarovski crystals. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "How One Honolulu-Based Artist Gets Dressed to Work in Paradise," 7 Mar. 2019 In Olney, Illinois, there’s a thriving population of nearly a hundred albino squirrels. National Geographic, "What is albinism?," 6 Mar. 2019 So did our ancestors — small mammals the size of squirrels or badgers — and the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, "Where NASA Put a Parking Lot, Dinosaurs and Mammals Once Crossed Paths," 31 Jan. 2018 To protect individual plants from sneaky squirrels, wrap fruits and veggies with small pieces of bird netting and secure with clothespins. Sunset, "Top Tips to Keep Plants Safe from Garden Pests," 22 Jan. 2018 Volunteers then cased the zones, on the lookout for squirrels. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Volunteers Counted All the Squirrels in Central Park," 24 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One detail that has largely escaped attention is a cache of lunar soil samples that was quietly squirreled away half a century ago. David Shribman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: 50 years after Apollo 11, the moon’s allure still resonates," 11 July 2019 Many travelers who squirrel away travel rewards are saving for an oceanfront vacation, paid for with points instead of cash. Washington Post, "4 beach vacations that maximize your points and miles," 13 June 2019 Yet estate sales like Mr. Ebsworth’s tend to fare better in good markets and bad because the material has presumably been squirreled away for years in the collection of an owner who adds prestige to the works’ histories. Kelly Crow, WSJ, "$92 Million Edward Hopper Highlights Christie’s Auction," 13 Nov. 2018 Seattle plans to create a digital system, for example, where residents can contribute their democracy vouchers electronically rather than squirreling away four pieces of paper for months on end. Sarah Kliff, Vox, "Seattle’s radical plan to fight big money in politics," 5 Nov. 2018 For his part, Mr. Cuomo spent most of the last six months squirreling away his cash, operating with a lean political staff dedicated mostly to raising more money. Shane Goldmacher, New York Times, "Cuomo Amasses $30 Million War Chest," 17 Jan. 2018 Just don’t forget to squirrel some away for next year’s Fourth of July. David Tanis, New York Times, "A Cheeseburger That Brings the Summer Heat," 29 June 2018 And 15% of people admit to squirreling things away in the trunk of their car. Southern Living, "Gasp! A Surprising Number of Closet-Starved Americans Are Using Their Ovens for Storage," 21 June 2018 There’s an entire economy around sneaker Instagram: influencers make a living posting shoes, others buy sneakers to create content before squirreling the kicks away. Cam Wolf, GQ, "The Rules of the Gym, According to the Hot Dudes of ‘Insecure’," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for squirrel

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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

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More Definitions for squirrel



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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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