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early 15c., "crouch on the heels," from Old French esquatir "press down, lay flat, crush," from es- "out" (from Latin ex-) + Old French quatir "press down, flatten," from Vulgar Latin *coactire "press together, force," from Latin coactus, past participle of cogere "to compel, curdle, collect" (see cogent). Related: Squatted; squatting. Slang noun sense of "nothing at all" first attested 1934, probably suggestive of squatting to defecate. The adjective sense of "short, thick" dates from 1620s.