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Squirrels - dray, drey or scurry ?

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strozzi | 09:59 Sat 26th Jul 2003 | Phrases & Sayings
7 Answers
This question is prompted by an answer in Animals & Nature suggesting that the collective noun for squirrels is dray or scurry. I have been unable to substantiate this in any authoritative reference works and believe that there is no collective noun for squirrels. Can anyone provide a definitive answer please ?
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http://www.theanswerbank.co.uk/DisplayAnswers.go?question_id=32583&category_id=1&index=0

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Click http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/dictionaries/an
imalsplants/data/m0007391.html
and read Paragraph 2. There, you'll see the normal British name is 'drey'. Certainly, the Oxford English Dictionary offers no support for 'scurry' in this meaning, but 'dray' is an alternative spelling of 'drey'.
Question Author
Thanks QM, I was hoping that you'd pick up on this one. Can you find any authoritative reference to what the collective noun for squirrels is, or that there isn't one ?
My apologies, Strozzi...I completely misread your question! Click http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_collective_n
ouns_for_non-human_mammals
for a web-page that does offer support for 'dray' as a collective noun for squirrels, however. This may possibly be just an American usage, though, as it is not offered by the OED as such. Cheers and again, sorry.
Question Author
Thanks. I'd seen that reference and other sites that state dray as the collective noun but what I can't find is anything to actually substantiate it.
Maybe I'll just have to give up and fall back on the usual explanation that it has "just slipped into common usage".
Personally, S, I'd be tempted to go with your initial tendency to say there is no collective noun - at least in British English - for squirrels. What is certain, as I've already said, is that none of the three words you offered originally is supported by the OED or Chambers, the 'bibles' in such matters.

However, given the way in which we seem to import Americanisms wholesale, 'dray' (sic) will probably become acceptable eventually. Sad, really, as we don't - in collective terms - have eyries of eagles, setts of badgers or warrens of rabbits. Cheers

Can we all go back to knowing, with great satisfaction, that we will never in fact need to know this word?
I think the collective groups are like football teams: the Greys versus the Reds. I'll explain the Offside rule; the sunny side of the tree, the shady side of the tree. If the squirrel is not on the tree, he is also Offside.

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