Animal verbs in English

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This is a compendium of animal names (i.e., nouns) that are also used as verbs in the English language. The list includes verbal usages that relate directly and indirectly to the noun’s meaning, analogies and unrelated verbal definitions, and is subdivided into common categories of vertebrate animals, together with a category of invertebrates.

Mammals and Reptiles

Animal Definition Sentence
Aardvark sexual intercourse. Aardvarking" is one of many euphemisms Briggs employs in reference to sexual intercourse.
Ape imitate the behavior or manner of, especially in an absurd or unthinking way.[1] New architecture can respect the old without aping its style.[1]
Badger ask repeatedly and annoyingly for something; pester.[2] A slew of journalists badgered him about the deals.[2]
Bat hit with the palm of one's hand.[3] He batted the flies away.[3]
Bat take in turns the role of hitting rather than fielding.[3] Ruth came to bat in the fifth inning.[3]
Bat flutter one's eyelashes, typically in a flirtatious manner.[3] She batted her long dark eyelashes at him.[3]
Bear carry.[4] He was bearing a tray of brimming glasses.[4]
Bear support.[4] Some walls cannot bear a stone vault.[4]
Bear endure.[4] Unable to bear the looks turned upon her, she ran away.[5]
Bear give birth.[4] She was lucky enough to bear six daughters.[no citations needed here]
Bear turn and proceed in a specified direction.[4] She directions said to bear left and follow the old road.[4]
Beaver (away) work hard.[6] Bridget beavered away to keep things running smoothly.[6]
Bitch express displeasure; grumble.[7] They bitch about everything![7]
Buck perform a bucking movement.[no citations needed here] He's got to get his head down to buck.[8]
Buck (up) to try to make someone happier, or to become happier.[9] I took him out to lunch to try to buck him up.[9]
Buffalo overawe or intimidate.[10] She didn't like being buffaloed and said so.[10]
Bull push or drive powerfully or violently.[11] He bulled the motorcycle clear of the tunnel.[11]
Cat raise an anchor from the surface of the water to the cathead.[12] They catted her anchor as she went.[12]
Cat (around) To look for sexual partners; have an affair or affairs. [13] Catting around with every lady in sight.[13]
Chipmunk To speed up an audio recording, especially a song, to make the voices high-pitched. [14] Audio files prevent chipmunking when encoded at the proper speed.[14]
Chipmunk put as much food in one's mouth as possible during the final seconds of an eating contest.[no citations needed here] If chipmunking is allowed in a contest, eaters are given a reasonable amount of time to swallow the food.
Cow intimidate into submission.[no citations needed here] The intellectuals had been cowed into silence.[15]
Dog follow closely and persistently.[16] This scandal has been dogging the administration for many months![16]
Dog act lazily; fail to try one's hardest. [16] He entered the season with a reputation for dogging it when he wasn't the primary receiver.[16]
Dog grip with a mechanical device.[16] She has dogged the door shut.[16]
Ferret (out) to discover information by searching for it in a determined way.[no citations needed here] We're going to ferret out all the connections between the election results and Russia.[no citations needed here]
Fox baffle or deceive.[17] The bad light and dark shadows foxed him.[17]
Hog keep or use for oneself in an unfair or selfish way.[18] He never hogged the limelight.[18]
Horse provide with a horse or horses.[19] For firms horsing their own vehicles, the cost of the yard would be a joint cost and cannot be divided between horses and vehicles.[19]
Hound harass, persecute, or pursue relentlessly.[20] She reminds me of the tenacious attorney general who had hounded Jimmy Hoffa and other labor bosses.[20]
Kangaroo to move forward or to cause (a car) to move forward with short sudden jerks, as a result of improper use of the clutch.[no citations needed here] My car keeps kangarooing when I try to accelerate.[no citations needed here]
Lion give a lot of public attention and approval to (someone); treat as a celebrity, as in lionize. [21] Modern athletes are lionized.[21]
Monkey behave in a silly or playful way.[22] My brother and I were monkeying around and he was pretending to try to throw me to the ground.[22]
Mouse hunt for or catch mice.[23] I'm not sure what the cats will make of them - that field is Faber's main area for mousing and Sorley seems to go in there quite a bit too.[23]
Mouse use a computer mouse to move a cursor on a computer screen.[23] Simply mouse over any item in the list.[23]
Pig gorge oneself with food.[24] Don't pig out on chips before dinner. (Don't pig out on chips before dinner.)[24]
Pig crowd together with other people in disorderly or dirty conditions.[24] He and Irving pigged it for years in a shoebox of an apartment.[24]
Pig give birth to piglets; farrow.[24] The patron of the hospital was held in such esteem, that when any person's sow pigged , one was set apart, and fed as fat as they could make it, to give to the brethren of St. Anthony.[24]
Pig operate a pig within an oil or gas pipeline.[24] If the pipeline is to be cleaned mechanically or " pigged " the pipeline size may dictate the minimum valve bore or the valve configuration.[24]
Pig (out) gorge oneself with food.[24] Don't pig out on chips before dinner.[no citations needed here]
Pony (up) pay (money), especially as a contribution or an unavoidable expense.[25] They were getting ready to pony up for their children's college education.[25]
Rabbit hunt rabbits. [26] We located the area where one can go rabbiting.[26]
Rabbit talk at length, especially about trivial matters.[26] Stop rabbiting on, will you, and go to bed![26]
Ram roughly force (something) into place.[27] He rammed his stick into the ground.[27]
Rat (of a person, dog, or cat) hunt or kill rats.[28] In another era, perhaps he and his mates would simply have gone out poaching or ratting, grumbling about bloody women along the way.[28]
Seal fasten or close securely.[29] He folded it, sealed the envelope, and walked to the mailbox.[29]
Snake move or extend with the twisting motion of a snake.[30] A rope snaked down.[30]
Skunk defeat (someone) overwhelmingly in a game or contest, especially by preventing them from scoring at all.[31] After that, we went to play a round of pool so that I could redeem myself, and we both thought for a bit that I was going to skunk him.[31]
Skunk avoid paying a debt. He skunked the load. [31]
Squirrel hide money or something of value in a safe place.[32] The money was squirreled away in foreign bank accounts.[32]
Squirrel move in an inquisitive and restless manner.[32] They were squirreling around in the woods in search of something.[32]
Sow plant by scattering seed on or in the earth.[no citations needed here] He was time to sow a thin layer of seeds on top. [33]
Steer guide or control the movement of.[34] All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.[35]
Tomcat pursue women promiscuously for sexual gratification.[36] He was tomcatting all night and sleeping until afternoon.[36]
Turtle engage in a gameplay strategy that emphasizes heavy defense, with little or no offense. Turtling minimizes risk to the turtling player while baiting opponents to take risks in trying to overcome the defenses.
Turtle withdraw and shrink, like a turtle hiding in its shell.[no citations needed here] Two boys, Bragi and Haaken, turtled their heads against their shoulders and hurried past.[37]
Weasel achieve something by use of cunning or deceit.[38] She suspects me of trying to weasel my way into his affections.[38]
Whale beat; hit.[39] Dad came upstairs and whaled me.[39]
Wildcat prospect for oil.[40] Although Krajick's book about a pair of wildcatting prospectors is set mostly in Canada's Northwest Territories during the 1990s, the hostility and paranoia on display are the same as at the Namibian mine.[40]
Wolf devour greedily.[no citations needed here] He wolfed down his breakfast.[41]
Yak talk at length, especially about trivial matters.[42] So it was easier to let the old blowhard yak away and just nod occasionally.[42]


Animal Definition Sentence
Bird To catch birds.[no citations needed here] I'm biased, but in my opinion, birding is the Greatest Pursuit Available to a Citizen of the Modern World.[43]
Chicken (out) withdraw from or fail in something through lack of nerve.[no citations needed here] The referee chickened out of giving a penalty.[no citations needed here]
Cock shape hay, straw, or other material into a pile with vertical sides and a rounded top.[44] It was a cocked heap.[no citations needed here]
Cock (up) (Britishism) ruin something.[45] The cocked election results created a number of problems.[no citations needed here]
Crane stretch out one's body or neck in order to see something.[46] She craned forward to look more clearly.[46]
Crow utter the characteristic loud cry of a rooster.[47] Funny, I thought normal roosters crowed in the morning.[47]
Cuckoo utter the call of the cuckoo or an imitation of it, cuckooed, cuckooing.[48] The bird was cuckooing all night.[48]
Cuckoo perpetrate a new type of crime in which a drug dealer befriends a vulnerable individual who lives on their own.[49] Cuckooing young men was a hobby of his.[49]
Duck lower the head or the body quickly to avoid a blow or so as not to be seen.[50] The spectators ducked for cover.[50]
Duck plunge one's head or body underwater.[50] I had to keep ducking down to get my head cool.[50]
Duck refrain from playing a winning card on a particular trick for tactical reasons.[no citations needed here] Ducking a trick is a necessary evil when playing bridge.[no citations needed here]
Duck (out) leave hurriedly or secretly; evade responsibility.[51] If I can I'll duck out of the office early.[51]
Eagle play a golf hole in two strokes under par.[52] He eagled the last to share fourth place.He eagled the last to share fourth place.[52]
Gander look intensely.[53] Paulie gandered at shelves full of coffee paraphernalia.[53]
Goose poke between the buttocks.[54] They boys were goosing me in a sensitive spot and I couldn't stop laughing.[54]
Goose give a boost; invigorate; increase.[54] The director goosed up the star's ratings by making him funny.[54]
Grouse complain pettily; grumble.[55] She heard him grousing about his assistant.[55]
Gull fool or deceive (someone).[56] Unfortunately, workers had been gulled into inflicting poverty and deprivation upon themselves.[56]
Hawk hunt game with a trained hawk.[57] He spent the afternoon hawking.[57]
Hawk hunt on the wing for food.[57] Swifts hawked low over the water.[57]
Hawk carry around and offer goods for sale, typically advertising them by shouting.[no citations needed here] Street traders were hawking costume jewelry.[no citations needed here]
Hawk clear the throat noisily.[no citations needed here] He hawked and spat into the flames.[no citations needed here]
Kite fly a kite.[58] A childhood judo enthusiast, he now just sticks to diving, surfing and kiting.[58]
Kite float a check with insufficient funds during the time it takes to clear the bank account.[no citations needed here] Prosecutors haven't revealed how he was tracked down, but as part of the plea deal they agreed not to prosecute the former fed for kiting checks through his Bank of America account while a fugitive.[58]
Lark enjoy oneself by behaving in a playful and mischievous way.[59] He jumped the fence and went larking the rest of the day.[59]
Parrot repeat mechanically.[60] He was encouraging students to parrot back information.[60]
Peacock display oneself ostentatiously; strut like a peacock.[61] He peacocks in front of the full-length mirror.[61]
Quail feel or show fear or apprehension.[62] She quailed at his heartless words.[62]
Rail provide or enclose with a rail or rails.[63] The altar is railed off from the nave.[63]
Rail sail a windsurfer board on its edge, so that it is at a sharp angle to the surface of the water.[no citations needed here] Heeling and railing are the same. Mono hull boats heel and windsurfers rail.[64]
Rail complain or protest strongly and persistently about.[no citations needed here] He railed at human fickleness.[63]
Raven hunt ferociously for prey.[65] He and the hounds ravening him are amalgamated in one precipitate upsweep of pigments.[65]
Rook take money by cheating, defrauding, or overcharging.[66] And they were convinced they'd rooked us… Yeah, the perfect business deal.[66]
Shag chase or catch fly balls for practice.[67] At the few other games I went to by myself, I also saw him in the outfield talking with teammates while they shagged fly balls.[67]
Snipe shoot at someone from a hiding place, especially accurately and at long range.[68] The soldiers in the trench sniped at us.[68]
Snipe make a sly or petty verbal attack.[68] The state governor constantly sniped at the president.[68]
Swallow cause something to pass down the throat.[69] She swallowed a mouthful slowly.[69]
Swan move about or go somewhere in a casual, relaxed way, typically perceived as irresponsible or ostentatious by others.[70] Swanning around in a $2,000 sharkskin suit doesn't make you a Renaissance prince.[70]


Animal Definition Sentence
Carp complain or find fault continually, typically about trivial matters.[71] I don't want to carp about the way you did it.[71]
Fish catch or try to catch fish, typically by using a net or hook and line.[72] He was fishing for bluefish.[72]
Fish attempt to induce someone to provide some form of information.[72] He was fishing for compliments/clues.[72]
Flounder struggle or stagger helplessly or clumsily in water or mud.[73] He was floundering about in the shallow offshore waters.[73]
Perch alight or rest on something.[74] A herring gull perched on the mast.[74]
Pike kill or thrust through with a pike. Piking the man seemed unnecessary.
Ray spread from or as if from a central point.[75] Delicate lines rayed out at each corner of her eyes.[75]
Sole put a new sole onto a shoe.[76] I had my favourite boots soled and heeled for half the price of a London cobbler.[76]
Torpedo attack or sink with a torpedo or torpedoes.[77] Unfortunately, the ship was torpedoed while still in the Baltic Sea and sank.[77]

Immature Forms

Animal Definition Sentence
Baby treat as a baby; pamper or be overprotective toward.[78] Her aunt babied her and fussed over her clothes.[no citations needed here]
Calf (calve) give birth to a calf.[no citations needed here] We are not aware of similar data reported for cows calving during different seasons of the year.[79]
Calf (calve) detached from an iceberg.[no citations needed here] Out past a cruising leopard seal, the distant Marr Glacier calves another berg, the boom echoing across the water.[79]
Cocoon envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way.[80] We began to feel cold even though we were cocooned in our sleeping bags.[80]
Egg urge or encourage someone to do something, especially something foolish or risky.[81] The man looked sick, but people around him were egging him on , encouraging him.[81]
Fawn produce young.[no citations needed here] Does fawning take place in the spring and summer?[no citations needed here]
Fawn give a servile display of exaggerated flattery or affection, typically in order to gain favor or advantage.[82] The congressmen fawned all over the President, but to no avail.[82]
Fry cook in hot fat or oil, typically in a shallow pan.[83] When all's ready, shallow fry the crumbed pork and slice.[83]
Fry destroy.[83] Drugs fry the brain.[83]
Foal give birth to a foal.[84] We will give special consideration to mares foaling in Kentucky.[84]
Kid give birth to the kid of a goat.[85] We first vaccinated the kids on the 18th April 1995, but we did not know for two years, when the goats eventually kidded whether the vaccination had worked or not, and even then they may not succumb to the disease straight away.[85]
Spawn release or deposit eggs.[86] The fish spawn among fine-leaved plants.[86]


Animal Definition Sentence
Beetle make one's way hurriedly or with short, quick steps.[87] The tourist beetled off to their next stop.[87]
Bug conceal a miniature microphone in a room or telephone in order to monitor or record someone's conversations.[88] The telephones in the presidential palace were bugged.[88]
Bug annoy or bother (someone).[88] A persistent reporter was bugging me.[88]
Butterfly split a piece of meat) down the center and spread it out flat.[89] The chief butterflied shrimp.[89]
Clam dig for or collect clams.[90] it was one of the worst times for clamming.[90]
Clam abruptly stop talking, either for fear of revealing a secret or from shyness.[90] When he's around people he doesn't know he clams up completely and just stops talking.[90]
Crab move sideways or obliquely.[91] In a de-crab crosswind landing, the nose points into the wind so that the aircraft approaches the runway slightly skewed with respect to the runway centerline (crabbing).[no citations needed here]
Crab fish for crabs.[91] They used to go duck hunting and crabbing and fishing and that's how they survived and raised all the family.[91]
Crab grumble, typically about something petty.[91] He remembered how she would crab about sand in her food when they went to the beach.[no citations needed here]
Earwig eavesdrop on a conversation.[92] He looked behind him to see if anyone was earwigging.[92]
Fly propel through the air under control.[93] Close the door or the moths will fly into the house.[93]
Leech habitually exploit or rely on.[94] Once again he's leeching off the kindness of others.[94]
Lobster catch lobsters.[95] He said, "Just keep lobstering till it runs out, I guess."[95]
Louse remove lice from. [96] They were lousing each other; and it surprised us that they did not discontinue their work as we entered.[96]
Louse (up) spoil or ruin something.[96] He loused up my promotion chances. [96]
Scallop gather or dredge for scallops.[97] And in the unlikely event that you get bored with counting portholes, you can always go scalloping - the seabed is alive with them![97]
Shrimp fish for shrimp.[98] While on patrol, Bubba proposed that he and Forrest go into the shrimping business.
Slug drink in a large draft; swig.[99] She picked up her drink and slugged it straight back.[99]
Slug strike with a hard blow.[99] He was the one who'd get slugged.[99]
Spider move in a scuttling manner suggestive of a spider.[100] A treecreeper spidered head first down the tree trunk.[100]
Sponge wipe, rub, or clean with a wet sponge or cloth.[101] She sponged him down in an attempt to cool his fever.[101]
Sponge obtain or accept money or food from other people without doing or intending to do anything in return.[101] They found they could earn a perfectly good living by sponging off others.[101]
Tick make regular short sharp sounds, typically one for every second of time that passes.[102] I could hear the clock ticking.[102]
Worm move along the grounding the manner of a worm.[103] I wormed my way along the roadside ditch.[103]


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  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 "Google Translate". 
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