Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

Squirrel

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

Squirrel

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:32 pm

• squirrel •


Pronunciation: skwêr-rêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A arboreal rodent with a long, bushy tail, common in the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia.

Notes: A squirrelly squirrel squirrelling nuts awayToday's Good Word refers to an animal so common that it has acquired an entourage of relatives. Squirrelly started out meaning "like a squirrel", but quickly slid into "crazy, jumpy, nervous". (That is the nickname by which my son the architect calls his older daughter.) This word also was "verbed", as Pogo put it. To squirrel something away is to hide it like squirrels store nuts for the winter, either burying them in the ground or putting them away in their nests.

In Play: Squirrels can be pests in many ways. Here is one way: "The squirrels bury their nuts in my flower bed, and in the spring I must spend all day pulling up walnut sprouts." They can drive you squirrelly if they get into the attic of your house: "Toots Sweet has squirrels in his attic and bats in his belfry."

Word History: Squirrel came to us from Anglo-French esquirel (Modern French écureuil) from Vulgar (street) Latin scuriolus, diminutive of a presumed noun scurius "squirrel". (We have no written evidence of it.) Scurius is a rearrangement of classical Latin sciurus "squirrel", borrowed from Greek skiouros with the same meaning. The Greek word presumably was originally a compound noun made up of skia "shade, shadow" + oura "tail". Squirrels were apparently so named for their habit of standing on their hind legs with their tail curled over their heads. (We are happy that Lynn Flake did not squirrel away today's Good Word, but rather submitted it to our series.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3531
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Re: Squirrel

Postby MTC » Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:50 am

"The Greek word presumably was originally a compound noun made up of skia "shade, shadow" + oura "tail". Squirrels were apparently so named for their habit of standing on their hind legs with their tail curled over their heads."

Squirrels may take umbrage at these remarks.

From the squirrel's perspective,

human: An tailless nonarboreal biped common in the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia.
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Squirrel

Postby Pepshort » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:58 am

"Squirrel came to us from Anglo-French esquirel (Modern French écureuil) from Vulgar (street) Latin scuriolus, diminutive of a presumed noun scurius "squirrel"."

Reading this, I was anticipating some connection to 'scurry' and 'scurrilous' -- as in, "The scurrilous squirrel scurried away when I found it chewing on my begonias." Oh well.

"The Greek word presumably was originally a compound noun made up of skia "shade, shadow"

Perhaps the Hebrew 'shkiah', meaning 'sunset' also comes into play here with skia.
"Luke, there is no try, there is either do or not do" -- Yoda
Pepshort
Junior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:59 am
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Re: Squirrel

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:38 am

And we must make note of all the preventative
devices out there to keep squirrels out of your birdfeeder.
At my house we have one arrogant, pesky
one that drives my dog squirrely, and s/he is named
Sasquirrel.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3447
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Re: Squirrel

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:26 am

I have seen as many as 11 squirrels at once in my backyard, and though we have ample pines with cones for food, they can overcome any device so far found for preventing raids on the bird feeders.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Re: Squirrel

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:32 pm

I have tried things a large as turkey roasting pans,
steel cones, vaseline, and they overcome them all.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3447
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Re: Squirrel

Postby gailr » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:10 pm

You can get squirrel feeders that look like giant squirrel heads. Very comical.
User avatar
gailr
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:40 am

Re: Squirrel

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:56 am

I think I have seen them advertised.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3447
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Re: Squirrel

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:16 pm

I received the following e-mail this morning from Monika Freund, in Germany. (When she mentions the school where she first heard the word, the school is located in Germany.)

Good evening Robert,

When I read the Good Word today I had to think of the first time I heard it: in the poem below we learned at school—by heart, mind you!

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

--W. H. Davies
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3531
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Re: Squirrel

Postby Slava » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:23 pm

I have a book titled "WordPlay" by a Chris Cole. It is a compendium of word facts and trivia. In it, the author claims that the longest one-syllable word in English, at eleven letters, is squirrelled. Now, is this some odd pronunciation, or is it just wrong? Squirrel has two syllables, no?

To boot, my spellchecker doesn't approve of having a double "l". It wants just one. British/American difference?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4653
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Re: Squirrel

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Jul 13, 2013 4:21 pm

Squirrel does indeed have two syllables, but some elide the second E; at best, it's a schwa. However, almost everyone jams it all into one syllable when saying "squirreled away". I suppose a poet could choose the necessary number for his rhythm, as Shakespeare certainly did.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2353
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Re: Squirrel

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:16 pm

Speak for yourself Perry. In Red Neck squirrel has always had one syllable. Ditto for squirreled or squirrelled. Apparently in England they agree with us Red Necks. This is a consistent pattern. Red Neck quarrel also has one syllable. Of course, standard American pronunciation (whatever that is) does give it two syllables but as you suggested many of us elide the second e. We discussed elide recently.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1737
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 7 guests

cron