- badger (n.)
- type of low, nocturnal, burrowing, carnivorous animal, 1520s, perhaps from bage "badge" (see badge) + reduced form of -ard "one who carries some action or possesses some quality," suffix related to Middle High German -hart "bold" (see -ard). If so, the central notion is the badge-like white blaze on the animal's forehead (as in French blaireau "badger," from Old French blarel, from bler "marked with a white spot;" also obsolete Middle English bauson "badger," from Old French bauzan, literally "black-and-white spotted"). But blaze (n.2) was the usual word for this.
Old English names for the creature were the Celtic borrowing brock; also græg (Middle English grei, grey). In American English, the nickname of inhabitants or natives of Wisconsin (1833).
- badger (v.)
- "to attack persistently, worry, pester," 1790, from badger (n.), based on the behavior of the dogs in the medieval sport of badger-baiting, still practiced in late 19c. England as an attraction to low public houses. Related: Badgered; badgering.
A badger is put into a barrel, and one or more dogs are put in to drag him out. When this is effected he is returned to his barrel, to be similarly assailed by a fresh set of dogs. The badger usually makes a most determined and savage resistance. [Century Dictionary]