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

The power outage for thousands of homes and businesses in downtown Orlando last Friday was caused not by the usual suspects, such as a falling branch, a wayward squirrel or a car wreck that cracked a pole. Kevin Spear, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando downtown power outage for thousands: initially a mystery and now explained," 28 June 2018 On April 5, a woman living on Kiernan Avenue called Wilmington police to report a squirrel loose in her basement. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Where the animals own the streets," 22 June 2018 Turkeys bobbed their heads and a squirrel rushed through the grass, their movements drowned out by the water. azcentral, "AZ Memo: Taylor Swift 'Reputation' blasts off in Glendale; Jan Brewer pushes Trump voters to Martha McSally; new restaurants eagerly awaited," 9 May 2018 It was determined the footprints were made by a squirrel. Tyler Langan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "North Shore blotter: Teen arrested for sending threatening Instagram message to his brother," 24 Jan. 2018 Cases of plague in Idaho were diagnosed in squirrels as recently as 2016, though none have been found in southern Ada County or Elmore County this year. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "First human case of plague in Idaho since 1992 confirmed in Elmore County child," 12 June 2018 However, a short distance away, nestled under a grandfather oak is a humble plaque bedecked with happy little squirrels. Vincent Crampton, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Explore Florida's Orange County: Woodlawn Memorial Park’s happy little plot," 6 May 2018 Today, the National Wildlife Federation recommends using Slinkys to protect bird feeders from hungry squirrels. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Remarkable, War-Torn, Spacefaring History of the Slinky," 8 Aug. 2017 There are enclosures ranging in size from squirrel to panther. Karen Russell, The New Yorker, "Orange World," 4 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Most of us, having got a whiff of what was going on, were busy squirreling ours away. Jim Mclauchlin, WIRED, "The Secret History of the Racy Module That Almost Ruined D&D," 12 June 2018 Don't forget to squirrel away cash for emergencies. Darla Mercado, USA TODAY, "1-in-3 workers can’t answer this question about their retirement savings," 28 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about squirrel

Statistics for squirrel

Last Updated

3 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for squirrel

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!