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Skunks are mammals in the family Mephitidae. They are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration. While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, skunks have as their closest relatives the Old World stink badgers. Cultural aspects = Etymology =The word 'skunk' is dated from the 1630s, adapted from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Abenaki) seganku, from Proto-Algonquian */eka:kwa/, from */ek-/ 'to urinate' + */-a:kw/ 'fox'. = Slang ='Skunk' has historic use as an insult, attested from 1841. The term has also been used to describe the act of overwhelmingly defeating an opponent in a game or competition, particularly by preventing the said opponent from scoring at all. 'Skunk' is also used to refer to certain strong-smelling strains of marijuana whose smell has been compared to that of a skunk's spray. In Southern United States dialect, the term polecat is sometimes used as a colloquial nickname for a skunk, even though polecats are only distantly related to skunks. = History of European awareness =In 1634, a skunk was described in The Jesuit Relations:The other is a low animal, about the size of a little dog or cat.
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