One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounSouthern, English Regional, East Anglian
A shrew, especially the common shrew, Sorex araneus. Also (perhaps by confusion): any of various small rodents. More fully "ranny-mouse".
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in William Cuningham (c1531–1586), physician and cartographer. Origin uncertain; perhaps ultimately from classical Latin mūs arāneus (lit. ‘spider-mouse’) a creature usually identified with the shrew, although a Scandinavian origin has alternatively been suggested.
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