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Why are groundhogs called woodchucks?

Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks. So much so that MANY of the weather predicting groundhogs around the country are named Chuck. Staten Island Chuck, Buckeye Chuck, Chattanooga Chuck, just to name a few. But did you know that the name woodchuck doesn’t actually have anything to do with wood or chucking it at all? It’s true.

Supposedly the word “woodchuck” is a corruption of the original Algonquian name for groundhogs, “wejack”, which means “fisher”. At some point, it is believed, wejack was anglicized and became woodchuck, and that’s why groundhogs are known by this name to this day.

This explains why the popular tongue twister “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” asks how much wood the woodchuck would chuck if it COULD chuck wood. Had the original name stuck, that tongue twister would make even less sense. “How much we would a wejack jack if a wejack could jack we?,” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

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