03 January 2017
Word for the day: drey
I've spent most of my life with squirrels in the yard or somewhere nearby. I've watched them build nests (these photographed in our neighborhood yesterday) and marveled at how such a porous structure could provide shelter in -20 degree temperatures.
But in all these years I have never read (or heard) a squirrel nest referred to as a "drey" until I encountered the term this past week, I think in a Fortean Times article. Perhaps the term is more commonly used in Great Britain.
The etymology is unknown. Even my OED doesn't offer a suggestion, other than to indicate that it is "local." Perhaps it is an ancient word, dating back to Saxon times.
Interesting fact: "Even though they are brown in the winter, the leaves surrounding the drey continue to cling tightly to their branches because they were harvested well before the tree began the process of shutting down and shedding its leaves." I had wondered about that too. You learn something every day.