One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of or relating to squirrels or to the squirrel family; resembling or characteristic of a squirrel; (Zoology) of or relating to the tribe Sciurini (which comprises the typical tree squirrels) or the subfamily Sciurinae (which includes in addition the flying squirrels).
Zoology. A sciurine rodent; a squirrel.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Richard Owen (1804–1892), comparative anatomist and palaeontologist. From scientific Latin Sciurus, genus name (Linnaeus Systema naturae (ed. 10, 1758) I. 63): see below) + -ine, after either scientific Latin Sciurini or Sciurinae, former family names (now names respectively of the tribe and subfamily to which squirrels belong).
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