Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks, which leads to the question, "What do they have to do with chucking wood?"
Actually, nothing. The word is derived from the native Algonquian names for the beastie. For example, in Cree, the word is wuchak (though a related southern New England language is the more likely source for the borrowing, which happened in the late 1600s).
When borrowing or using unfamiliar words, people are very likely to re-form them by analogy with words they already know, a process known as "folk etymology". Groundhogs tend to make their winter burrows in wooded or brushy areas, which may account for English speakers understanding the first part of the Algonquian word as "wood".
The verb "chuck" (throw) was first used to mean "tap someone under the chin", and probably comes from Old French chuquer (later choquer, the source of "shock") meaning "to knock, bump".
|The famous albino groundhog from Wiarton in SW Ontario|