Following is a quote from the novel, "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins (emphasis mine):

"My laptop is on the floor next to my bed; it sits there, a squat, accusatory presence."

What does "squat" refer to in this context?

Dictionary provides the following two meanings:

  1. "crouch or sit with one's knees bent and one's heels close to or touching one's buttocks or the back of one's thighs"

Wonder how will a laptop squat?!

  1. "unlawfully occupy an uninhabited building or settle on a piece of land"

The girl in question owns the laptop, which is lying next to her bed, which is in a home she rents. So definitely the laptop isn't occupying that place illegally.

So what exactly does it mean?

  • 4
    The word squat is an adjective here. Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 9:03
  • 2
    @CowperKettle okay that makes sense now. You may post it as an answer.
    – CinCout
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 9:05

1 Answer 1


The word squat as an adjective means:

short and thick or low and wide, especially in a way which is not attractive.

a squat little old man.

The brown buildings were old and squat

The cook was short and squat, with thick eyebrows and a slight moustache.

he was muscular and squat.

a row of ugly, squat houses

And the lines just before (the quote you have mentioned) show why the laptop has
a "accusatory presence":

I never learn. I wake with a crushing sensation of wrongness, of shame, and I know immediately that I’ve done something stupid. I go through my awful, achingly familiar ritual of trying to remember exactly what I did. I sent an email. That’s what it was. At some point last night, Tom got promoted back up the list of men I think about, and I sent him an email. My laptop is on the floor next to my bed; it sits there, a squat, accusatory presence. .


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