The English word skunk has two root words of Algonquian and Iroquoian origin, specifically seganku (Abenaki) and scangaresse (Huron). The Cree and Ojibwe word shee-gawk is the root word for Chicago, which means 'skunk-land'. Alternative English names for the striped skunk include common skunk, Hudsonian skunk, northern skunk, black-tailed skunk and prairie polecat. The latter name was originally used by English settlers, who noted the animal's similarity to the European polecat. This association likely resulted in the striped skunk's subsequent unfavorable reputation as a poultry thief, despite it being a much less destructive animal than the true polecat. The name "Alaska sable" was employed by furriers during the late 19th century.
Local and indigenous names