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 The preserve is full of rabbits, squirrels and deer, prey for bobcat and mountain lions, and good numbers of raptors that include red-tailed hawks, owls and others. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Mountain lion alert sent out for South Peninsula," 13 Sep. 2019 For years, some residents — including the late Kathy May — have tried to deter people from feeding ducks, geese, squirrels and other animals. Priscella Vega, Daily Pilot, "Huntington Beach committee proposes campaign to get people to stop feeding wildlife in parks," 13 Sep. 2019 In addition to the deer tick, the squirrel and groundhog ticks can also spread this illness, the CDC says. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "8 Tick-Borne Illnesses That Aren’t Lyme Disease," 26 July 2019 Other animals at the center are non-predators — rabbits, squirrels and songbirds — brought in by concerned citizens for immediate care and then transferred to specialists in the area. Ramona Sentinel, "Wildlife center seeing record number of patients," 18 July 2019 With huge eyes, long tails, and a face somewhere between a squirrel and a cat, lemurs range from the 3-foot indri to Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, which weighs about the same as an AA battery. National Geographic, "10 unforgettable animal-watching adventures," 21 June 2019 But amid all of the cheerful talking squirrels and bippity-boppity-boos and eventual happily ever afters (usually involving impossibly small-waisted princesses), Disney decided that all of the mothers must die. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Why Does Disney Hate Mothers So Much?," 28 Mar. 2019 Lilly found that the squirrels became more vigilant after hearing the cry of the red-tail hawk—freezing, fleeing, or looking up. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Squirrels rely on the original twitter to know they are safe," 7 Sep. 2019 In the photos, the squirrel reaches for a yellow daisy, touching the flower to its face. Fox News, "Photographer captures moment 'curious' squirrel stops to smell a flower," 6 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Alabama police had a warrant to search Limestone County resident Mickey Paulk’s house for guns and drugs, when they were warned of a potential attack squirrel high on meth. Birmingham Magazine, al, "Birmingham magazine’s Best and Worst of Birmingham," 3 Sep. 2019 Keeping a handful of programmers squirreled away on the top floor of the Murray Hill complex was not going to bankrupt the company. Richard Jensen, Ars Technica, "Unix at 50: How the OS that powered smartphones started from failure," 29 Aug. 2019 If anything, the amount of electricity that needs to be squirreled away requires the technology to be cheap. Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "SoftBank’s first bet in energy storage is a startup that stacks concrete blocks," 14 Aug. 2019 The elimination of transaction costs has been especially attractive to those investors who squirrel away small amounts of money with each paycheck. Asjylyn Loder, WSJ, "Charles Schwab, Fidelity Escalate Brokerage Price War," 12 Feb. 2019 Sometimes the children have been able to squirrel away money or hang on to a few scraps of paper with family members’ names and contact information. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "'They have a right to be children': How border crisis' young victims find peace in Indiana," 8 July 2019 But while squirreling away the money, university officials also requested and received several state funding increases, and repeatedly raised tuition during the years of the audit. Teresa Watanabe, latimes.com, "That mysterious $1.5 billion found in an audit? Cal State says it’s ‘nothing nefarious’," 21 June 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.

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

4 Nov 2019

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


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

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).


not being in agreement or harmony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!