Help my hunt for an animal verb
November 6, 2014 9:22 PM   Subscribe

In the vein of "squirrel away" or "ferret away" (and maybe even "badger"), I'm looking for a verb from the animal kingdom that means working hard at something, persistently and continually. It's come up a few times where I've wanted to say "Continue animaling away at the problem", but the particular beast I'm looking for eludes me. Help?
posted by kreestar to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Beavering. Google "beavering". "Beavering away" is the first response.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:24 PM on November 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


Beavering is also the first thing that came to my mind.
posted by metahawk at 9:57 PM on November 6, 2014


Well, there's "slugging away" meaning pretty much that, but that is not, so far as I know, related to actual slugs.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:58 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pecking away?
posted by one_bean at 10:03 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Beavering, definitely.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:15 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Doggedly is another, although as an adverb you'd say it as, "Susan doggedly tracked down the bug no one else could find in the code."
posted by jamaro at 10:31 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Bearing down on the problem" might also work.
posted by elmer benson at 11:25 PM on November 6, 2014


Slugging away. Slugging as in punching afaik.
posted by devnull at 11:52 PM on November 6, 2014


Beaver is the first thing that came to my mind too. Though sometimes it seems like flounder would be more appropriate. :(
posted by aubilenon at 12:35 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


“To hound” means to pursue relentlessly, and it's sometimes used in the phrase “hounding away at it.”
posted by mbrubeck at 1:00 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


The other animal commonly associated with hard and consistent work is the bee. So you might be thinking of the word "buzzing" or some variation thereof.
posted by Mizu at 2:54 AM on November 7, 2014


Good question!

Where I live/work to "white-ant" (or 'termite') someone or something is to slowly, persistently work for its/their undermining or inevitable collapse.
posted by evil_esto at 2:59 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Agree, beavering. Also haven't heard slugging away, but have heard plugging away. Not that it's animal-related. There's also working like a dog, but that doesn't have positive connotations.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:49 AM on November 7, 2014


Working doggedly.

My first thought was beavers, but "beavering" sounds weird to me.
posted by alms at 4:01 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes to "beavering away." Says Merriam-Webster online:

Definition of BEAVER
intransitive verb
: to work energetically 'beavering away at the problem'
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:32 AM on November 7, 2014


There are also a bunch of linguistic metaphors, which aren't quite manner verbs - galloping along, roaring ahead, clawing forward (all for ruthless persistence).
posted by sweltering at 4:44 AM on November 7, 2014


Beavering. For the win!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:08 AM on November 7, 2014


Definitely beavering.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:19 AM on November 7, 2014


Beavers build huge dams, quickly, without ever appearing rushed.

Is that what you mean to convey?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:55 AM on November 7, 2014


Frog march
posted by Flood at 6:16 AM on November 7, 2014


Frog march is being hauled away with your arms pinned behind your back!

Very negative whether the frog-legged one is being falsely imprisoned or rightfully restrained.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:31 AM on November 7, 2014


I've also heard "hanging on to that like a terrier".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on November 7, 2014


"hanging on to that like a terrier"

Or "worrying" something like a terrier.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:57 AM on November 7, 2014


You can bet your ass this MIT affiliate thought of "beavering" first as well. The beaver is Nature's engineer.
posted by Mapes at 8:15 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am now just going to say "animaling away". Beavering sounds strange to me but I suppose it's correct. Doggedly also seems close but it's the wrong form of speech.
posted by sockermom at 8:43 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bird-dogging. I was told to bird-dog something back in the 80s, by a southern country boy, and I have used that expression ever since.
posted by janey47 at 10:02 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Beavering is a good analogy but a crummy word, to my ears. Doesn't lay right, needs a momentary parsing. I don't really have a better suggestion, sorry to say.

Maybe instead of animal specific words try words that describe animal-ish gestures/actions? Keep gnawing on the problem, keep scratching at the problem, keep chewing on the problem, etc?
posted by dirtdirt at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2014


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