wood·chuck (wo͝od’chŭk′)
n. A large burrowing rodent (Marmota monax) of northern and eastern North America, having a short-legged, heavyset body and grizzled brownish fur. Also called groundhog; also called regionally whistle pig.
[By folk etymology, probably of New England Algonquian origin.]
Word History: The woodchuck goes by several names in the United States. One is groundhog, the name under which legends about the animal's emergence from the ground on Groundhog Day have accrued. The word groundhog probably makes reference to the animal's excellent burrowing abilities. In the Appalachian Mountains, the woodchuck is known as a whistle pig, in reference to the shrill whistle it makes when disturbed. The word woodchuck is probably a folk etymology of a word in an Algonquian language of New England akin to the Narragansett word for the animal, ockqutchaun. English-speaking settlers in North America probably heard the Algonquian term and reinterpreted the first part of it as wood, which seemed to make sense in the name of an animal that often lives on the edges of woodland and in open wooded areas.

Word Histories. 2014.

(Arctomys monax)

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Woodchuck — Wood chuck , n. 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A common large North American marmot ({Arctomys monax}). It is usually reddish brown, more or less grizzled with gray. It makes extensive burrows, and is often injurious to growing crops. Called also {ground hog}.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • woodchuck — 1670s, alteration (influenced by WOOD (Cf. wood) (n.)) of Cree (Algonquian) otchek or Ojibwa otchig, marten, the name subsequently transferred to the groundhog …   Etymology dictionary

  • woodchuck — ► NOUN ▪ a North American marmot with a heavy body and short legs. ORIGIN an alteration (by association with WOOD(Cf. ↑wood)) of an American Indian name …   English terms dictionary

  • woodchuck — ☆ woodchuck [wood′chuk΄ ] n. [altered by folk etym. < a S New England Algonquian name: cf. ? Narragansett ockqutchaun] any of several marmots of North America; esp., the common hibernating groundhog (Marmota monax) with coarse, red brown fur …   English World dictionary

  • Woodchuck EP — Infobox Album Name = The Woodchuck EP Type = EP Artist = Released = March 3, 2008 (UK) Recorded = 2007 at Britannia Road Studios, London Genre = Indie rock, pop rock Length = 13:34 Label = Epic Records Producer = Reviews = * RockLouder Rating|4|5 …   Wikipedia

  • woodchuck — /wood chuk /, n. a stocky North American burrowing rodent, Marmota monax, that hibernates in the winter. Also called chuck, groundhog. [1665 75, Amer.; presumably a reshaping by folk etym. of a word in a Southern New England Algonquian language;… …   Universalium

  • woodchuck n — How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood …   English expressions

  • woodchuck — groundhog ground hog , ground hog ground hog (ground h[o^]g ), n. A reddish brown North American burrowing marmot ({Marmota monax}), also called the {woodchuck}. It hibernates in the winter. Syn: woodchuck, {Marmota monax}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • woodchuck — noun A rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Scientific name: Marmota monax. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? mdash; popular tongue twister. Syn:… …   Wiktionary

  • woodchuck — UK [ˈwʊdˌtʃʌk] / US noun [countable] Word forms woodchuck : singular woodchuck plural woodchucks a groundhog …   English dictionary

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