AskDefine | Define badger

Dictionary Definition

badger n : sturdy carnivorous burrowing mammal with strong claws widely distributed in the northern hemisphere


1 annoy persistently; "The children teased the boy because of his stammer" [syn: tease, pester, bug, beleaguer]
2 persuade through constant efforts

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A common name for any animal of three subfamilies, which belong to the family Mustelidae: Melinae (Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae (Ratel or honey badger), and Taxideinae (American badger).
  2. A native or resident of the American State of Wisconsin.
  3. In the context of "plural|vulgar|cant": A crew of desperate villains who robbed near rivers, into which they threw the bodies of those they murdered.
  4. A person who makes badges.


native of Wisconsin


  1. To pester, to annoy persistently.
    He kept badgering her about her bad habits.
  2. To pass gas; to fart.


Extensive Definition

Badger is the common name for any animal of three subfamilies, which belong to the family Mustelidae: the same mammal family as the ferrets, the weasels, the otters, and several other types of carnivore. There are eight species of badger, in three subfamilies: Melinae (badgers of Europe and Asia – see links in species list below), Mellivorinae (the Ratel or honey badger), and Taxideinae (the American badger). The Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included in the Melinae, but recent genetic evidence indicates that these are actually Old World relatives of the skunks (family Mephitidae). Typical badgers (Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species) are short-legged and heavy-set. The lower jaw is articulated to the upper by means of a transverse condyle firmly locked into a long cavity of the cranium, so that dislocation of the jaw is all but impossible. This enables the badger to maintain its hold with the utmost tenacity, but limits the jaw movement to hinging open and shut or sliding from side to side.


The name badger is possibly derived from the French word blaireau being used in both senses. But more likely, the term comes from the French word bêcheur (digger), introduced during William the Conqueror's reign. An older term for "badger" is brock (Old English brocc), a Celtic loanword (Gaelic broc, Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokko). The Proto-Germanic term was *þahsu- (German Dachs), probably from the PIE root *tek'- "to construct," so that the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels). A male badger is a boar, a female a sow and a young badger is a cub. The collective name for a group of badgers is a clan, colony, or cete.



The behavior of badgers differs by family, but all shelter underground, living in burrows called setts. Some are solitary, moving from home to home, while others are known to form clans. Clan size is variable between 2 to 15. Badgers are fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs. Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves, coyotes and bears.


The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms, insects, and grubs. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds as well as cereals, roots and fruit.

Badgers and humans

Many badgers in Europe were gassed during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Until the 1980s, gassing was also practiced in the UK to control the spread of bovine TB. Scandinavian custom is to put eggshells in one's boots when walking through badger territory, as badgers are believed to bite down until they can hear a crunch. Hunting badgers is common in many countries, either as a perceived pest, or for sport. Ostensibly badgers are protected in the UK by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. (Otherwise an exemption allowing fox hunters to loosely block setts to prevent chased foxes escaping into them was brought to an end with the passage of the Hunting Act 2004). Meddling in badger population is prevented as badgers are listed in the Berne Convention (Appendix III), but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation.
See Eurasian badger for more details about badgers and bovine tuberculosis.
Badger-baiting is a blood sport outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 as well as the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The Dachshund dog breed has a history with badgers; "dachs" is the German word for badger, and dachshunds were originally bred to be badger hounds. Badgers are popular in English language fiction. Many badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' Redwall series, most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother. One such badger contains 'Brock' in his name. Other stories featuring badgers include The Boy Who Talked to Badgers (1975 movie), The Tale of Mr. Tod, The Wind in the Willows, The Once and Future King, The Animals of Farthing Wood, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Book of Merlyn, and The Chronicles of Narnia. In the Harry Potter series, one of the four "houses" of Hogwarts, Hufflepuff, is symbolised by a badger. The character Frances in Russell Hoban's series of children's books is a badger. They also appear prominently in two volumes of Erin Hunter's Warriors: The New Prophecy series. A badger god is also featured as a major character and spirit guide for the lead character in The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce. The most prominent poem on the badger is from the Romantic period's John Clare. "Badger" describes a badger hunt, complete with badger-baiting, and treats the badger as a noble creature who dies at the end.
Badger hair is used to make quality shaving brushes and has even been used in some instances as doll hair.
The badger is the state animal of Wisconsin. Likenesses of badgers appear through the Wisconsin State Capitol, and a badger appears on the head of the statue of Wisconsin atop the building.
The official mascot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is Buckingham U. Badger, AKA Bucky Badger.

Urban legends

  • British forces were said to have released man-eating badgers in the vicinity of Basra, Iraq following the 2003 coalition invasion. This allegation has been denied by the British, and local scientists agree that the animals, Ratels, also known as Honey Badgers, are native to the area.


External links

badger in Aragonese: Texudo
badger in Asturian: Melandru
badger in Czech: Jezevec
badger in Danish: Grævlinger
badger in German: Dachse
badger in Modern Greek (1453-): Ασβός
badger in Spanish: Tejón
badger in Persian: گورکن
badger in French: Melinae
badger in Italian: Meles meles
badger in Korean: 오소리아과
badger in Georgian: მაჩვი
badger in Dutch: Dassen
badger in Norwegian: Grevling
badger in Japanese: アナグマ亜科
badger in Portuguese: Texugo
badger in Russian: Барсучьи
badger in Simple English: Badger
badger in Finnish: Mäyrä
badger in Swedish: Grävlingar
badger in Turkish: Porsuk (hayvan)
badger in Cherokee: ᎤᎫᎾ
badger in Urdu: بجو
badger in Chinese: 獾亚科

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aggravate, annoy, bait, be at, bedevil, beset, blackmail, bother, bristle, brown off, bug, bullyrag, burn up, chivy, devil, discompose, distemper, disturb, dog, exact, exasperate, exercise, extort, fash, force from, get, gripe, harass, harry, heckle, hector, hound, irk, levy blackmail, miff, molest, nag, needle, nettle, nudzh, peeve, persecute, pester, pick on, pique, plague, pluck the beard, pother, provoke, pry loose from, rend, rend from, ride, rile, rip, rip from, roil, ruffle, screw, shake down, snatch from, squeeze, tear from, tease, torment, try the patience, tweak the nose, vex, worry, wrench, wrench from, wrest, wring, wring from
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