Definition of squirrel in English:



  • 1An agile tree-dwelling rodent with a bushy tail, typically feeding on nuts and seeds.

    • ‘The squirrels fed out of her hands, the deer walked by her side, and every tree seemed to bow as she passed beneath it.’
    • ‘My upstairs neighbor in my fourplex apartment has started feeding a squirrel peanuts.’
    • ‘There in the branches, also motionless, also fixed in attention, is a gray-brown squirrel with a tail so long and so absolutely pure pure white it's wonderful.’
    • ‘Small rodents, such as hamsters, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and rabbits, do not typically carry rabies.’
    • ‘There were squirrels everywhere in the park, with their bushy tails and all, nibbling on chestnuts fallen from the trees.’
    • ‘To keep squirrels, chipmunks and moles away, add human hair from your hairdresser or bloodmeal to the planting hole when planting.’
    • ‘Children keep trying to feed the squirrels, but have yet to learn that you should not go to them, let them come to you.’
    • ‘The sweet nut within the acorns is coveted by songbirds, ground birds, small mammals like squirrels and chipmunks, and even deer.’
    • ‘The ability of squirrels to harvest seed crops before they fall to the ground may make them less sensitive to species interactions on the forest floor.’
    • ‘The chestnuts nourished the locals and their livestock, provided cash from their sale to big cities by the box car, and fed such game species as bears, deer, squirrels, and turkeys.’
    • ‘Tree-dwelling squirrels have lovely bushy tails, and we realised that the little ones, from the look of them, were also from one such splendid family line.’
    • ‘I therefore abandoned my picnic lunch and watched birds and squirrels feeding on a slab of Christmas cake and lots of sandwiches.’
    • ‘Boreal Owls prey on small mammals, including voles, mice, and small squirrels.’
    • ‘The raccoons made it through the long winter as their nightly raids on our bird feeders attest, and we all know that nothing gets the best of the squirrels and chipmunks!’
    • ‘If we don't finish off the pancakes I can feed them to the squirrels.’
    • ‘There are many other bulbs you can plant to brighten your spring, but daffodils are simple, they multiply and the squirrels and other rodents don't seem to like the taste very well.’
    • ‘From North America came squirrels and raccoons, bears and bison, eagles and an elk.’
    • ‘Through time, a variety of animals will burrow into it and use it for nesting - animals like skunks, squirrels and small rodents.’
    • ‘With its stained cedar siding and peeling paint, it remained standing for five decades as field mice and squirrels occasionally ran along the pipes in the corridors.’
    • ‘Lynx feed on squirrels, birds and other small prey, but snowshoe hares are the mainstays of their diet.’
    1. 1.1A related rodent of the squirrel family.
      • ‘They have been found eating gray squirrels, possums, black rats, and house wrens.’
      • ‘Fox squirrels made a beeline for woodlands from almost 455 yards away.’
      • ‘Not only do red squirrels not hibernate but they are very active at this time.’
      • ‘The deciduous woods and associated meadows support an abundant population of fox squirrels.’
      • ‘Burrowing owls prefer to remodel an existing burrow, often a ground squirrel's.’
      • ‘Many ground squirrels hibernate and some store food in underground burrows.’
      • ‘As in ground-dwelling squirrels, factors other than social complexity may determine complexity of communication.’
      • ‘Grey squirrels don't eat native red ones, but they do drive them out of their native habitats.’
      • ‘Numerous species of ground-dwelling squirrels have been described from the Blancan of the Great Plains.’
      • ‘Overhead, a fox squirrel chattered and nut tailings fell into my hair.’
      • ‘Alpine marmots are large ground-dwelling squirrels living in mountain open meadows.’
      • ‘In late summer, ground squirrels move underground to escape the dry, hot environment.’
      • ‘A total of 137 individual northern flying squirrels were captured during the study.’
      • ‘Red squirrels exhibited a similar breeding cycle to that of northern flying squirrels.’
      • ‘Eastern grey squirrels scurry up the Norway maple shading my bedroom window.’
      • ‘Red squirrels scamper about, flicking their tails.’
      • ‘Reds and greys mix in other parts of the midlands and the border counties, but Carey said the native Irish squirrel is ‘extremely rare’, particularly in the east.’
      • ‘Flickers and bluebirds seek them out for nesting cavities and red squirrels eagerly cache the high-energy pine cones.’
      • ‘The new guidelines will provide better management for the northern flying squirrel in West Virginia and expedite its recovery.’
      • ‘When I was growing up the gray squirrels had yet to displace the red ones.’
    2. 1.2The fur of the squirrel.
      • ‘This is the trade name for brushes made of squirrel, goat, pony, bear, sheep or a blend of the above.’
      • ‘Collars on keys style flies can be made of squirrel, marabou, cross cut bunny and hackle and combo bunny/hackle that is wrapped around the hook and then swept back.’


  • 1[with object] Hide money or something of value in a safe place.

    ‘the money was squirreled away in foreign bank accounts’
    • ‘Bryson's travel books, such as A Walk in the Woods about his hiking the Appalachian Trail, led him to read about the Ice Age and for years he has been squirrelling away notes about natural history.’
    • ‘But why squirrel your money away when there is so little good news on the savings front?’
    • ‘It is common knowledge that people save for homes, education, and other expensive items, not because they have some innate urge to squirrel some portion of their income away.’
    • ‘The scale of the sudden windfall has aroused suspicions that insurers had been busy in previous years squirreling away unnecessarily high reserves.’
    • ‘The first is that Clarke's notes were squirreled away after the event.’
    • ‘But why not consider doing what many of us do, and self insure by squirreling the money you save into a savings account?’
    • ‘Regard your wreck finds as an achievement to be celebrated, not as a naughty secret to be squirrelled away.’
    • ‘Last June the Revenue Commissioners announced that they had taken in 650m from 11,000 people who had squirrelled away their savings in offshore locations, including the Isle of Man.’
    • ‘People will still need to eat, and in the past there has been a short-term increase in shopping as people squirrel stuff away in case times get bad.’
    • ‘I wouldn't like to die having squirrelled money away all my life without having enjoyed it.’
    • ‘He could smartly whip through my belongings before the inevitable descent of mad-eyed relatives, removing anything humiliating and safely squirrelling away anything of potential historical import.’
    • ‘Then, when it's time to pay for your holiday, you'll have squirreled much of it away already.’
    • ‘She'd compulsively acquire things - if she got a hold of anything she just squirreled it away.’
    • ‘We now need to have companies and all other New Zealanders following suit and beginning to squirrel funds away for their own retirement.’
    • ‘All summer long, I was able to squirrel a little bit away here and there without Rick's knowledge.’
    • ‘So far this year we have squirrelled away at least 60% more of our hard cash than we did this time last year.’
    • ‘Most property owners would applaud any effort to squirrel money away for a rainy day but the sheer size of the city's reserve accounts would indicate a closer look.’
    • ‘However, is all of the money being squirreled away earning as much interest as it could be?’
    • ‘A new analysis of the scheme from the Revenue Commissioners shows the percentage of people on lower incomes squirrelling away money has increased compared with those on middle and higher incomes.’
    • ‘So bits of twine, a broken bread knife and half-empty bags of last year's mouldy bulb fibre are squirrelled away in my shed.’
    save, put aside, put by, lay by, set aside, lay aside, put to one side, reserve, keep in reserve, preserve, deposit, keep, store, stockpile, accumulate, collect, stock up on, stock up with, heap up, hoard, stow away, cache, garner
    salt away, stash away
    View synonyms
  • 2[no object] Move in an inquisitive and restless manner.

    ‘they were squirreling around in the woods in search of something’
    • ‘The cops would regularly gather in the parking lot to watch for people driving drunk or simply squirreling around.’
    • ‘For my test I loaded the bags, added a large duffel on the back seat and swept off with my good buddies, squirreling around California’s back roads playing Stupid Old Guys Trying To Go Fast.’
    • ‘And there's Lisa Wesley and Andrew Blackwood squirrelling away in the greenhouse creating a white-washed model landscape complete with animals, flyovers, factories and numbered points of interest.’
    • ‘We should cherish these glimpses of her as it won't be long before she goes to ground again, squirrelling away in her Manhattan apartment or the Virginia bolt-hole she shares with two pugs and a Boston terrier.’
    • ‘I woke up early and squirreled around the kitchen - glazing ham, making salads, chopping this and that, preparing for the evening.’


Middle English: shortening of Old French esquireul, from a diminutive of Latin sciurus, from Greek skiouros, from skia shade + oura tail Current verb senses date from the early 20th century.