also racoon, "small plantigrade carnivorous quadruped," common in the warmer parts of North America, c. 1600, arocoun, from Algonquian (Powhatan) arahkun, from arahkunem "he scratches with the hands." Early forms included Capt. John Smith's raugroughcum. In Norwegian, vaskebjørn, literally "wash-bear," from its habit of dipping its food in water before eating it.
updated on March 27, 2021