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Friday 1 June 2012

Word To Use Today: badger.

Badger. You have to laugh, just at the sound of it.

They're found over most of the world, are badgers: in Europe and Asia, in America, and in Africa.

The Asiatic Stink Badgers were thought to be badgers, too (yes, that's why they were called...) but they have recently been expelled from the badger family.

The claim is that this is nothing to do with their body odour. However, as a badger's sense of smell is up to 800 times more powerful than yours I can't help but have my suspicions, myself.

They're doughty fighters, are badgers, and have been known to see off bears and wolves (and not only when drunk, which badgers sometimes are when they've been at the rotting fruit). But apart from the honey badger (which is notoriously bad-tempered)  badgers don't usually go around attacking other animals unless they intend to eat them.

Having said that, the easiest way to tell a male from a female badger is by the scars the males carry from fighting amongst themselves.

Badgers will eat more or less anything, from venomous snakes to honey to rabbits to fruit to earthworms ( a badger needs about 200 worms a day to keep him in good condition). There are limits, however, and a mother's habit of sicking up earthworms for her babies to eat does seem to encourage them to start foraging for themselves.

Badger hair is sometimes made into brushes, and badgers themselves are sometimes made into kebabs in Russia and goulash in Croatia. In Japan badger meat is traditionally meat for the humble. And probably, I should imagine, desperate.

It is possible to badger someone, which means to pester them, but this seems most unfair to badgers, who spend all their time either underground or trying to creep up on earthworms.

Sure enough, the verb to badger comes from the foul human habit of watching dogs slowly torturing a badger to death. 

Suddenly even the Asian Stink Badger seems rather endearing.

Word To Use Today: badger. This word probably comes from badge + ard, because of the white mark on the badger's head, though people do wonder if the word could be something to do with the Albanian vjed hullë, which means both badger and thief.

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