Hamstering Squirrels

An interesting Dutch word I learnt the other day is hamsteren [ˈɦɑm.stə.rə(n)]. It means “to hoard (food, supplies), typically for emergencies”, and was borrowed from the German hamstern (to hoard). The same word is also found in Luxembourgish and Norwegian. It’s thought to be a reference to the way hamsters store food in their cheek pouches [source].

a167071 henke-2

The verb to hamster also exists in English and means “to secrete or store privately” [source] – not quite the same as the Dutch meaning.

Then there’s to squirrel, meaning “to store in a secretive manner, to hide something for future use” [source], and to squirrel away (to stash or hide; to hoard, collect, save, or accumulate; to create a reserve, stash, or hoard of some supply) [source], which are closer to the meaning of hamsteren.

Are there similar words in other languages?

2 thoughts on “Hamstering Squirrels

  1. Russian хомячить usually means “to eat, esp. quickly and secretively”, but the meaning “to hide” is also known. There exists крысятничать “to hide, to thieve (esp. common resources)” (from крыса “a rat”), taken from prison jargon and with serious negative connotations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *