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    scapula (n.) — schnitzel (n.)

    scapula (n.)

    in anatomy, "shoulder blade," 1570s, Modern Latin, from Late Latin scapula "the shoulder," from Latin scapulae (plural) "shoulders, shoulder blades," perhaps originally "spades, shovels," on the notion of similar shape (or of the animal shoulder blades used as scraping tools in primitive times), from PIE *skap-, variant of *skep- "to cut, scrape" (see scabies).ETD scapula (n.).2

    scapular (adj.)

    1680s, "pertaining to the scapula," from Modern Latin scapularis, from Latin scapula "shoulder" (see scapula).ETD scapular (adj.).2

    The noun (late 15c.) in reference to a short cloak for the shoulders prescribed for certain monks, is from Medieval Latin scapulare, from scapula. It was attested in Old English in the Medieval Latin form, and the usual Middle English form was scapulary. Related: Scapulary.ETD scapular (adj.).3

    scapulimancy (n.)

    divination by means of the cracks in a shoulder-blade put into a fire, 1871, from combining form of scapula + -mancy "divination by means of." Related: Scapulimantic.ETD scapulimancy (n.).2

    scar (n.1)

    [mark on skin resulting from a wound or hurt] late 14c., scarre, "trace left on skin by a healed wound, burn, etc.," from Old French escare "scab" (Modern French escarre), from Late Latin eschara, from Greek eskhara, in medical writing "scab formed after a burn," which is of uncertain origin.ETD scar (n.1).2

    The English sense probably shows influence of another noun scar "crack, cut, incision" (Middle English scarre, skar; attested from late 14c. into 17c.), which is from Old Norse skarð and related to score (n.). Figurative sense attested from 1580s. Old English glossed Latin cicatrix with dolhswað, from dolh "wound" + swað "track, trace."ETD scar (n.1).3

    scar (v.)

    1550s, transitive, "to mark with a scar or scars," from scar (n.1). Figurative use is from 1590s. Intransitive meaning "become scarred" (of wounds, etc., in healing) is by 1888. Related: Scarred; scarring.ETD scar (v.).2

    scar (n.2)

    [rocky cliff] 1670s, "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or on the side of a mountain;" earlier scarre "naked, detached rock or crag" (14c.; 12c. in place-names), from Old Norse sker "isolated rock or rocky patch at the bottom of the sea," from Proto-Germanic *sker- "to cut" (from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut") on the notion of "something cut off." The word in the Norse sense is attested in English from 1712.ETD scar (n.2).2

    scarred (adj.)

    "marked by scars, exhibiting scars," mid-15c., past-participle adjective from scar (v.). Transferred use by c. 1600.ETD scarred (adj.).2

    scarab (n.)

    "dung beetle," especially the type held sacred by the ancient Egyptians, 1570s, from French scarabeé, from Latin scarabaeus, name of a type of beetle, from Greek karabos "beetle, crayfish," a foreign word, according to Klein probably Macedonian (the suffix -bos is non-Greek). Related: Scarabaean. In ancient use, also a gem cut in a shape like a scarab beetle and with an inscription on the underside.ETD scarab (n.).2

    scaramouche (n.)

    1660s, name of a cowardly braggart (supposed by some to represent a Spanish don) in traditional Italian comedy, from Italian Scaramuccia, literally "skirmish," from schermire "to fence," from a Germanic source (such as Old High German skirmen "defend"); see skirmish (n.). According to OED, a vogue word in late 17c. London due to the popularity of the character as staged there by Italian actor Tiberio Fiurelli (1608-1694).ETD scaramouche (n.).2


    place in Yorkshire, earlier Scarðabork, etc., apparently a viking name, from Old Norse and meaning "fortified place of (a man called) Skarthi," who is identified in old chronicles as Thorgils Skarthi, literally "Thorgils Harelip," from Old Norse skartð "notch, hack (in the edge of a thing); mountain pass." It has been noted that a literal reading of the name as "gap-hill" suits the location.ETD Scarborough.2

    Scarborough warning "short notice or none; a blow and then a warning" is from 1540s. The exact origin is uncertain, but the old (17c.) story tracing it to a sudden seizure of Scarborough castle by one of the Staffords in 1557 seems too recent.ETD Scarborough.3

    scarce (adj.)

    c. 1300, scarse, "restricted in quantity, barely sufficient in amount or effect; few in number, rare, seldom seen," from Old North French scars "scanty, scarce" (Old French eschars, Modern French échars), which according to OED is from Vulgar Latin *scarsus, from a presumed *escarpsus, earlier *excarpsus, past participle of *excarpere "pluck out," from classical Latin excerpere "pluck out" (see excerpt).ETD scarce (adj.).2

    As an adverb, "hardly, scarcely," early 14c., from the adjective. Phrase make (oneself) scarce "go away, leave at once," is attested by 1771, noted then as a current cant phrase. Related: Scarcely.ETD scarce (adj.).3

    scarceness (n.)

    mid-14c., scarsnes, "stinginess" (a sense now obsolete); see scarce + -ness. By late 14c. as "insufficiency, want, dearth." By 1670s as "uncommonness, rarity."ETD scarceness (n.).2

    scarcity (n.)

    "insufficiency, want, dearth," c. 1300, scarsete, from a shortening of Anglo-French and Old North French escarcete (Old French escharsete), from eschars "scanty, scarce" (see scarce).ETD scarcity (n.).2

    scare (v.)

    1590s, "frighten, terrify suddenly," an unusual alteration of Middle English skerren "to frighten" someone (late 12c.), from Old Norse skirra "to frighten; to shrink from, shun; to prevent, avert," which is related to skjarr "timid, shy, afraid of," but of unknown origin.ETD scare (v.).2

    In Scottish also skair, skar, which seem to track closer to the word's expected development, and in dialect skeer, skear. Intransitive meaning "become frightened, be scared" is from 14c.; the specific sense of "be alarmed by rumor" is from 1900.ETD scare (v.).3

    To scare away "drive off by frightening" is from 1650s. To scare up "procure, obtain, find, bring to light" is recorded by 1846, American English, from notion of rousing game from cover. Related: Scared; scaring.ETD scare (v.).4

    scare (n.)

    1520s, "something that frightens, a scarecrow;" 1540s, "sudden panic, sudden terror inspired by a trifling cause, false alarm," from scare (v.). The earlier form was Middle English sker "fear, dread, terror, fright" (c. 1400). Scare tactic "attempt to manipulate public opinion by exploitation of fear" is by 1948.ETD scare (n.).2

    scared (adj.)

    mid-15c., "frightened, alarmed, startled," past-participle adjective from scare (v.). Emphatic scared stiff is recorded by 1900; scared shitless by 1936. Scaredy-cat "timid person" first attested 1906.ETD scared (adj.).2

    scarecrow (n.)

    1550s, from scare (v.) + crow (n.). Earliest reference is to a person employed to scare birds. Meaning "figure of straw and old clothes made to resemble a person and set in a grain field or garden" to frighten crows and other birds from the crop is implied by 1580s; hence "gaunt, ridiculous person" (1590s). For the formation, compare daredevil.ETD scarecrow (n.).2

    An older name for such a thing was shewel. Shoy-hoy apparently is another old word for a straw-stuffed scarecrow (Cobbett began using it as a political insult in 1819 and others picked it up; OED defines it as "one who scares away birds from a sown field," and says it is imitative of their cry). Also fray-boggard (1530s). Middle English had skerel, apparently in the same sense, from skerren "scare."ETD scarecrow (n.).3

    scare-monger (n.)

    also scaremonger, "alarmist, one who spreads terrifying reports," 1888, from scare (n.) + monger (n.). Related: Scare-mongering.ETD scare-monger (n.).2

    scarf (n.1)

    [band of silk, strip of cloth], 1550s, "a band worn across the body or over the shoulders," probably from Old North French escarpe "sash, sling," which probably is identical with Old French escherpe "pilgrim's purse suspended from the neck," perhaps from Frankish *skirpja or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse skreppa "small bag, wallet, satchel"), or from Medieval Latin scirpa "little bag woven of rushes," from Latin scirpus "rush, bulrush," which is of unknown origin [Klein].ETD scarf (n.1).2

    It also is attested in early Modern English as scarp. OED points to "the change of the initial p into f after liquids". As a cold-weather covering of warm and soft material for the neck, by 1844. Plural scarfs began to yield to scarves early 18c., on model of half/halves, etc.ETD scarf (n.1).3

    scarf (v.)

    "eat hastily," 1960, U.S. teen slang, originally a noun meaning "food, meal" (1932), perhaps imitative, or from nautical slang scoff "eat hastily or voraciously, devour" which is attested from 1846 (compare U.S. tramps slang scoffing "food, something to eat," 1907). This is said to be a variant of scaff (by 1797) in the same sense, and scaff (n.) "food, provisions" is attested from 1768, but the group is of obscure origin. Perhaps the word comes ultimately from some survival of Old English sceorfan "to gnaw, bite" (see scarf (n.2)). South African scoff (n.) is said to be a colloquial representation of Dutch schoft "quarter of a day," hence "each of the meals of a day." Related: Scarfed; scarfing.ETD scarf (v.).2

    scarf (n.2)

    [connecting joint in carpentry, the ends being cut or notched so as to fit into each other], late 13c. (implied in scarf-nail), probably from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse skarfr "nail for fastening a joint; diagonally cut end of a board," Swedish skarf, Norwegian skarv, from Proto-Germanic *skarfaz, source also of Dutch scherf, Old English scearfe "a fragment, piece" (from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut"). Also used as a verb, "unite by means of a scarf" (1620s). Also borrowed into Romanic (French écart, Spanish escarba).ETD scarf (n.2).2

    scary (adj.)

    also scarey, "terrifying, causing or tending to cause fright," 1580s, from scare (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "easily frightened, subject to scares" is from 1800. In this sense formerly sometimes colloquially as skeery, skeary; OED marks this meaning as originally and chiefly North American. Related: Scarier; scariest.ETD scary (adj.).2

    scarification (n.)

    late 14c., scarificacioun, "the making of shallow or superficial incisions in the body to drain blood," c. 1400, "act of covering with scratches or slight cuts," from Old French scarification (14c.), from Late Latin scarificationem (nominative scarificatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of scarificare, altered from Latin scarifare "scratch open," from Greek skariphasthai "to scratch an outline, sketch," from skariphos "pencil, stylus" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut, separate, sift"). By 1540s as "incisions made by scarifying."ETD scarification (n.).2

    scarify (v.)

    late 14c., scarifien, "make shallow incisions in (the body) to let blood or drain pus," from Old French scarifier "score, scrape" leather or hide (14c.), from Late Latin scarificare, from Latin scarifare "scratch open," from Greek skariphasthai "to scratch an outline, sketch," from skariphos "pencil, stylus" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut, separate, sift").ETD scarify (v.).2

    By mid-15c. of tree trunks. The meaning "cover with scars" (1680s) is a sense-shift from influence of scar (v.). Related: Scarified; scarifier; scarifying.ETD scarify (v.).3

    scarily (adv.)

    1845, "timidly," from scary + -ly (2). By 1967 in a positive sense, "unnervingly" (as in scarily good, etc.).ETD scarily (adv.).2

    scarious (adj.)

    1806, in botany, "dry and shriveled," from Modern Latin scariosus "dry and shriveled," which is of obscure origin.ETD scarious (adj.).2

    scarlatina (n.)

    "scarlet fever," 1803, from Modern Latin scarlatina (Sydenham, 1676), from Italian scarlattina (Lancelotti, 1527), fem. of scarlattino (adj.), diminutive of scarlatto "scarlet" (see scarlet). According to OED, often "misapprehended" as meaning a milder form of the disease. Related: Scarlattinal.ETD scarlatina (n.).2

    scarlet (n.)

    mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), "rich cloth" (often, but not necessarily, bright red), from a shortened form of Old French escarlate "scarlet (color), top-quality fabric" (12c., Modern French écarlate), which, with Medieval Latin scarlatum "scarlet, cloth of scarlet," Italian scarlatto, Spanish escarlate often is said to be from a Middle Eastern source, but perhaps is rather from a Germanic source akin to Old High German scarlachen, scharlachen (c. 1200), from scar "sheared" + lachen "cloth."ETD scarlet (n.).2

    In English it is attested as the name of a color, a highly chromatic and brilliant red, from late 14c. It was used as an adjective in reference to this color, or to gowns of this color, from c. 1300.ETD scarlet (n.).3

    Scarlet Lady is Biblical (Isaiah i.18, Revelation xvii.1-5); she has been variously identified by commentators. Scarlet woman "notoriously immoral woman, prostitute" (by 1924) perhaps is from notion of "red with shame or indignation." Earlier it was used in the same sense as Scarlet Lady.ETD scarlet (n.).4

    Scarlet fever is from 1670s, so called for its characteristic rash. It also was an old slang term for the condition of women irresistibly glamoured by men in uniform. Scarlet oak, a New World tree, is so called from 1590s. Scarlet letter in figurative use traces to Hawthorne's story (1850), a red cloth "A" which convicted adulterers were condemned to wear. German Scharlach, Dutch scharlaken show influence of words cognate with English lake (n.2).ETD scarlet (n.).5

    scarp (n.)

    1580s, of fortifications, "interior slope of a ditch," hence any sharp, steep slope, from Italian scarpa "slope," which is probably from a Germanic source, perhaps Gothic skarpo "pointed object," from Proto-Germanic *skarpa- "cutting, sharp," source also of Middle High German schroffe "sharp rock, crag," Old English scræf "cave, grave" (from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut"). Compare escarpment.ETD scarp (n.).2

    scat (n.2)

    "filth, dung," by 1950, from Greek stem skat- "dung" (see scatology).ETD scat (n.2).2

    scat (n.1)

    "nonsense patter sung to jazz," 1926, probably of imitative origin, from one of the syllables used. As a verb, by 1935. Related: Scatting.ETD scat (n.1).2

    scat (interj.)

    "go away!" usually addressed to a small animal, 1838, via quicker than s'cat "in a great hurry," in which the word probably represents a hiss followed by the word cat.ETD scat (interj.).2

    scathe (v.)

    late 12c., scathen, "to harm, injure, hurt; to cause harm, damage, or loss to," from Old Norse skaða "to hurt, harm, damage, injure," from Proto-Germanic *skathan- (source also of Old English sceaþian "to hurt, injure," Old Saxon skathon, Old Frisian skathia, Middle Dutch scaden, Dutch schaden, Old High German scadon, German schaden, Gothic scaþjan "to injure, damage").ETD scathe (v.).2

    In some sources this is traced to a PIE *sket- "to injure." The Germanic word was seen as cognate with some Celtic formations and Greek a-skēthēs "unharmed, unscathed," but Beekes finds that connection "impossible" on phonetic grounds and Boutkan, agreeing, writes that "The etymon is limited to Celt.-Gmc." and offers no IE etymology.ETD scathe (v.).3

    It survives mostly in its negative past participle unscathed, and in the figurative meaning "sear with invective or satire" (1852, usually as scathing). The latter seems to have developed specifically from the word in the sense of "scar, scorch" used by Milton in "Paradise Lost" (1667).ETD scathe (v.).4

    scathing (adj.)

    1794 in literal sense, "damaging, wounding; blasting, scorching," present-participle adjective from scathe (v.). Of words, speech, etc., from 1852. An older word was Old English sceaðfullum, Shakespeare's scatheful. Related: Scathingly.ETD scathing (adj.).2

    scatology (n.)

    "obscene literature," 1876, with -logy "treatise, study" + Greek skat-, stem of skōr (genitive skatos) "excrement," from PIE *sker- "excrement, dung" (source also of Latin stercus "dung"), on the notion of "to cut off;" see shear (v.), and compare shit (v.). Late 19c. dictionaries also give it a sense of "science of fossil excrement." Related: Scatological (1886).ETD scatology (n.).2

    scatophage (n.)

    "animal that feeds on dung," by 1890, earlier in French, from Greek stem skat- "dung" (see scatology) + -phage "eater." Related: Scatophagous.ETD scatophage (n.).2

    scattering (n.)

    mid-14c., "that which has been strewn about;" late 14c., "act of sprinkling, strewing, or dispersing;" verbal noun from scatter (v.). By 1620s as "sparse number or amount." Colloquial scatteration is attested by 1776.ETD scattering (n.).2

    scattered (adj.)

    late 14c., of units in a grouping, "disunified and dispersed," past-participle adjective from scatter (v.). Figurative use, in reference to thoughts, etc., is by 1620s. Related: Scatteredly.ETD scattered (adj.).2

    scatter (v.)

    mid-12c., scateren, transitive, "to squander;" c. 1300, "to separate and drive off in disorder;" late 14c., "to throw loosely about, strew here and there," possibly a northern English variant of Middle English schateren (see shatter), reflecting Norse influence. The intransitive sense, "go or flee in different directions, disperse" is from c. 1300. As a noun from 1640s, "act or action of scattering;" by 1950 in reference to radio waves.ETD scatter (v.).2

    scatterbrain (n.)

    also scatter-brain, "thoughtless, giddy person; one incapable of serious, connected thought," 1790, from adjective scatter-brained "careless, giddy" (1764); see scatter (v.) + brain (n.). Scattered in the figurative mental sense is by 1620s, and the use of scattering for "mental distraction" dates to mid-15c. For the formation, compare scatter-good "spendthrift" (early 13c. as a surname).ETD scatterbrain (n.).2

    scattershot (adj.)

    1959, figurative use of term for a kind of gun charge meant to broadly spread the pellets when fired (1940), from scatter (v.) + shot (n.). Scatter-gun "shotgun" dates to 1836.ETD scattershot (adj.).2

    scavenger (n.)

    1540s, originally "person hired to remove refuse from streets," a modification of Middle English scavager, scawageour (late 14c.), the title of a London official who originally was charged with collecting tax on goods sold by foreign merchants.ETD scavenger (n.).2

    This is from Middle English scavage, scauage (Anglo-French scawage) "toll or duty exacted by a local official on goods offered for sale in one's precinct" (c. 1400), from Old North French escauwage "inspection," from a Germanic source (compare Old High German scouwon, Old English sceawian "to look at, inspect;" see show (v.)).ETD scavenger (n.).3

    The scavenger later was charged with inspection and maintenance of streets: Blount's description ("Glossographia," 1656) is "an Officer well known in London, that makes clean the streets, by scraping up and carrying away the dust and durt." The modern general sense of the word "one who collects and consumes or puts to use what has been discarded" evolved through the notion of "collect and dispose of rubbish."ETD scavenger (n.).4

    The word came to be regarded as an agent noun in -er, but the verb scavenge (q.v.) is a late back-formation from the noun. For the unetymological -n- (c. 1500), compare harbinger, passenger, messenger, etc. Extended 1590s to animals that feed on decaying matter. Scavenger hunt is attested from 1937. Mayhew (1851) has scavagery "street-cleaning, removal of filth from streets."ETD scavenger (n.).5

    scavenge (v.)

    1640s, transitive, "cleanse from filth," a back-formation from scavenger (q.v.). The intransitive meaning "search through rubbish" for usable food or objects is suggested by 1880s; the transitive sense of "extract and collect anything usable from discarded material" is by 1922. Related: Scavenged; scavenging.ETD scavenge (v.).2

    scenary (n.)

    1690s, obsolete nativized form of Italian scenario (see scenario).ETD scenary (n.).2

    scenario (n.)

    1868, "sketch of the plot of a dramatic work," from Italian scenario, from Late Latin scenarius "of stage scenes," from Latin scena "scene" (see scene); earlier in nativized form scenary (1690s). The meaning "imagined situation" is recorded by 1960, in reference to hypothetical nuclear wars.ETD scenario (n.).2

    scene (n.)

    1530s, "subdivision of an act of a play," also "stage-setting," from French scène (14c.), from Latin scaena, scena "scene, stage of a theater," from Greek skēnē "wooden stage for actors," also "that which is represented on stage," originally "tent or booth," which is related to skia "shadow, shade," via the notion of "something that gives shade" (see Ascians).ETD scene (n.).2

    According to Beekes' sources, the Greek word "originally denoted any light construction of cloth hung between tree branches in order to provide shadow, under which one could shelter, sleep, celebrate festivities, etc."ETD scene (n.).3

    A theatrical word; the wider senses come from the notion of the painted drops and hangings on stage as the "setting" for the action. From "stage setting" the sense extended to "material apparatus of a theatrical stage, part of a theater in which the acting is done" (1540s), which led to "setting of any artistic work, place in which the action of a literary work is supposed to occur" and the general (non-literary) sense of "place where anything is done or takes place" (both by 1590s).ETD scene (n.).4

    Hence the sense in reference to a (specified) activity and its realm or sphere (1931, as in the poetry scene) and U.S. slang sense of "setting or milieu or situation for a specific group or activity," attested from 1951 in Beat jargon.ETD scene (n.).5

    Meaning "any exhibition, display, or demonstration of strong feeling," especially "stormy encounter between two or more persons," is attested by 1761. By 1650s as "a view presented to the mind or eye."ETD scene (n.).6

    Behind the scenes "having knowledge of affairs not apparent to the public" (1748) is an image from the theater, "amid actors and stage machinery" (back of the visible stage and out of sight of the audience), which is attested from 1660s. Scene of the crime is attested by 1843. To make a scene "make a noisy or otherwise unpleasant demonstration" is by 1831.ETD scene (n.).7

    The word was in Middle English in the Latin form, scena, "structure on a stage for dramatic recitations" (late 14c.).ETD scene (n.).8

    scenery (n.)

    "decoration of a theater stage, disposition and succession of scenes in a play," 1770 (in a figurative sense), earlier scenary; see scene + -ery. Meaning "a landscape or view, general appearance of a place considered as a pictorial scene" is from 1777.ETD scenery (n.).2

    scene-shifter (n.)

    "one who arranges the movable scenes in a theater as the play requires," 1752, from scene (n.) "stage-setting" + agent noun from shift (v.).ETD scene-shifter (n.).2

    scenic (adj.)

    1620s, "of or pertaining to the stage or drama, theatrical," from French scénique (14c.) and directly from Latin scaenicus "dramatic, theatrical," from Greek skenikos, from skēnē "wooden stage for actors," also "that which is represented on stage," originally "tent or booth" (see scene).ETD scenic (adj.).2

    The meaning "of or pertaining to stage scenery or effects" is by 1824; that of "of or pertaining to natural scenery" is by 1842. Of roads, etc., "offering fine landscape views," since 1885; scenic railway is recorded from 1886. Related: Scenically.ETD scenic (adj.).3

    The older word was scenical, Middle English scenicalle (early 15c.) "theatrical," but this came to be used largely in a bad sense, "resembling stage illusions," hence "sham, pretended."ETD scenic (adj.).4

    scenite (n.)

    "one who dwells in a tent," c. 1600, from Latin scenites, from Greek skēnitēs, from skēnē "tent" (see scene (n.)).ETD scenite (n.).2

    scented (adj.)

    1570s, "endowed with the power of smell," a sense now obsolete, past-participle adjective from scent (v.). By 1660s as "having a scent," 1740 as "perfumed."ETD scented (adj.).2

    scent (v.)

    late 14c., senten, originally a hunting term, "to find the scent of, perceive by smell," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from Latin sentire " to feel, perceive by the senses; give one's opinion or sentiments" (see sense (n.)).ETD scent (v.).2

    The unetymological -c- appeared 17c., perhaps in this case by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science. But such an insertion was a pattern in early Modern English and also yielded scythe and for a time threatened to establish scite and scituate.ETD scent (v.).3

    Figurative use from 1550s. The transitive sense "impregnate with an odor, make fragrant, perfume" is from 1690s. Related: Scented; scenting.ETD scent (v.).4

    scent (n.)

    c. 1400, sent, "a smell, what can be smelled" (especially a trace left by an animal in passing used as a means of pursuit by a hound), also "perception, sensation" (the etymological sense); from scent (v.). Often figurative, of pursuits or inquiries of any kind. Almost always applied to agreeable odors; the meaning "a perfume, fragrant liquid distilled from flowers, etc." is by late 15c. (Caxton).ETD scent (n.).2

    scepter (n.)

    "staff of office peculiar to royalty or independent sovereignty," c. 1300, ceptre, from Old French ceptre, sceptre (12c.) and directly from Latin sceptrum "royal staff," from Greek skēptron "staff to lean on," in a Persian and Asian context, "royal scepter," in transferred use, "royalty," from root of skeptein "'to support oneself, lean; pretend something, use as a pretention." Beekes has this from a root *skap- (perhaps non-Indo-European) and compares Latin scapus "shaft, stalk," Albanian shkop "stick, scepter," Old High German skaft, Old Norse skapt, Old English sceaft "shaft, spear, lance" (see shaft (n.1)).ETD scepter (n.).2

    The verb meaning "to furnish with a scepter" is from 1520s; hence "invest with royal authority." Related: Sceptred.ETD scepter (n.).3

    sceptic (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of skeptic (q.v.). Related: Sceptical; sceptically; scepticism.ETD sceptic (n.).2


    chiefly British English spelling of scepter (q.v.); for spelling, see -re. Related: Sceptred.ETD sceptre.2


    consonant cluster that can represent five distinct sounds in English; it first was used by Middle English writers to render Old English sc-, a sound now generally pronounced (and spelled) "-sh-." Sometimes it was miswritten for ch. It also was taken in from German (schnapps) and Yiddish (schlemiel). In words derived from classical languages (school (n.1)), it represents Latin sch-, Greek skh-, but in some of these words the spelling is a restoration and the pronunciation does not follow it (as in schism; Middle English sisme, cisme).ETD sch.2

    The Yiddish words with it, often derisive or dismissive, tended to come into 20c. American English. In addition to those with entries here, Saul Bellow used schmegeggy, "Portnoy's Complaint" has schmatte "a ragged garment;" schmeck "a sniff" figures in heroin jargon, and schmutz "dirt, filth" has been used. Directly to English from German also are some specialized words: Schmelz "enamel," schmerz "grief, pain, sorrow,"ETD sch.3

    schadenfreude (n.)

    "malicious joy in the misfortunes of others," 1922 as a word in English, German Schadenfreude, literally "damage-joy," from schaden "damage, harm, injury" (see scathe) + freude "joy," from Old High German frewida "joy," from fro "happy," literally "hopping for joy" (from Proto-Germanic *frawa-; see frolic).ETD schadenfreude (n.).2

    schatzi (n.)

    "German girlfriend," 1956, from U.S. Army jargon, from German Schatzi, diminutive of Schatz, a term of endearment for a woman, literally "treasure," from Proto-Germanic *skatta- (source also of Dutch schat "treasure," Gothic skatts "piece of money, money"), originally "cattle," which is of uncertain origin.ETD schatzi (n.).2

    schedule (n.)

    late 14c., sedule, cedule "ticket, label, slip of paper with writing on it" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French cedule (Modern French cédule), from Late Latin schedula "strip of paper" (in Medieval Latin also "a note, schedule"), diminutive of Latin scheda, scida "one of the strips forming a papyrus sheet," from Greek skhidē "splinter," from stem of skhizein "to cleave, split" (see shed (v.)). Also from the Latin word are Spanish cédula, German Zettel.ETD schedule (n.).2

    Especially slips of paper attached to a document as an appendix, stating details in a tabular form or listing names or particulars (a sense maintained in U.S. tax forms). The specific meaning "printed timetable" is recorded by 1863 in railway use. The modern spelling began 15c. in imitation of Latin, was regular from mid-17c., but pronunciation remained "sed-yul" for centuries afterward. The modern British pronunciation ("shed-yul") is from French influence, while the U.S. pronunciation ("sked-yul") is from the practice of Webster, based on the Greek original.ETD schedule (n.).3

    schedule (v.)

    1855, "make a schedule of;" 1862, "include in a schedule;" from schedule (n.). Related: Scheduled; scheduling.ETD schedule (v.).2

    scheduling (n.)

    "the preparation of timetables for complex operations," by 1894, verbal noun from schedule (v.).ETD scheduling (n.).2


    also Scheherazade, the narrator of the "Arabian Nights;" the name was used by 1807 in reference to "(young, attractive, female) teller of long tales."ETD Scheherezade.2

    schema (n.)

    plural schemata, 1796, in Kantian philosophy ("a product of the imagination intermediary between an image and a concept"), from Greek skhēma "figure, appearance, the nature of a thing," which is related to skhein "to get," and ekhein "to have, hold; be in a given state or condition" (from PIE root *segh- "to hold"). The meaning "diagrammatic representation" is from 1890; the general sense of "hypothetical outline" is by 1939.ETD schema (n.).2

    schematize (v.)

    "formulate in a regular order," 1866, from Latinized form of Greek skhēmatizein, from stem of skhēma "figure, appearance" (see scheme (n.)). Related: Schematization.ETD schematize (v.).2

    schematic (adj.)

    1701, "pertaining to schemes or a schema," from Latin stem of scheme (n.) + -ic. The noun, short for schematic diagram, etc., is attested by 1910. Related: Schematical (1670s).ETD schematic (adj.).2

    scheme (n.)

    1550s, "figure of speech" (a sense now obsolete), from Medieval Latin schema "a shape, a figure, a form, appearance; figure of speech; posture in dancing," from Greek skhēma (genitive skhematos) "figure, appearance, the nature of a thing," which is related to skhein "to get," and ekhein "to have, hold; be in a given state or condition" (from PIE root *segh- "to hold").ETD scheme (n.).2

    It is attested by 1610s as "linear representation showing relative positions pf the parts or elements of a system" (especially in astrology). The sense of "program of action" is by 1640s, also "outline, draft of a book, etc."ETD scheme (n.).3

    The meaning "plan of action devised to attain some end" is by 1718, and unfavorable overtones (selfishness, deviousness) began to creep in to the word after that time. The meaning "complex unity of coordinated component elements, a connected and orderly arrangement" is from 1736. In prosody by 1838. Color scheme is by 1890 (in Milton Bradley Co.'s "Color in the School-Room"); earlier scheme of colour (by 1877).ETD scheme (n.).4

    scheme (v.)

    1716, transitive, "reduce to a scheme;" 1767, "devise a scheme, plot, plan," from scheme (n.). Intransitive sense of "form plans, contrive" is by 1842. Related: Schemed; scheming.ETD scheme (v.).2

    schemer (n.)

    1724, "a contriver, plotter," agent noun from scheme (v.). Schematist was used from 1690s for "framer of a system or doctrine." Schemist is from 1640s as "astrologer," 1753 as "projector."ETD schemer (n.).2


    place in New York state, from Mohawk (Iroquoian) skah-nehtati "the other side of the pines," containing -hneht- "pine tree."ETD Schenectady.2

    scherzo (n.)

    in music, "passage or movement of a light and playful character," 1852, from Italian scherzo, literally "sport, joke," from scherzare "to jest or joke," from a Germanic source (compare Middle High German scherzen "to jump merrily, enjoy oneself," German scherz "sport"), from PIE *(s)ker- (2) "leap, jump about." Especially the lively second or third movement in a multi-movement musical work. Scherzando in musical instruction is the Italian gerund of scherzare.ETD scherzo (n.).2

    schism (n.)

    late 14c., scisme, sisme, cisme, "outward dissension within the church," producing two or more parties with rival authorities, from Old French scisme, cisme "a cleft, split" (12c.) and directly from Church Latin schisma, scisma (in Medieval Latin also cisma), from Greek skhisma (genitive skhismatos) "division, cleft," from stem of skhizein "to split" (from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split").ETD schism (n.).2

    The Greek word was applied metaphorically in the New Testament to divisions in the Church (I Corinthians xii.25),ETD schism (n.).3

    The classical spelling was restored 16c., but the pronunciation is unsettled. The general sense of "disunion, division, separation" is from early 15c. Historically, often in reference to the Great Schism (1378-1417) in the Western Church.ETD schism (n.).4


    mid-15c., scismatik, "pertaining to, of the nature of, or characterized by schism" (outward separation from an existing church or faith on difference of opinion), from Old French scismatique, cismatique (Modern French schismatique), from Church Latin schismaticus, from Greek skhismatikos, from skhisma "division, cleft" (see schism). Used also as a noun in Old French and Late Latin. Earlier in English as a noun, "one who participates in a schism (late 14c.). The spelling was altered late 16c. in English and French. Related: Schismatical; schismatically.ETD schismatic.2

    schist (n.)

    type of closely layered metamorphic rock, 1784 (earlier schistus, c. 1600), from French schiste (16c.), from Latin schistos lapis "stone that splits easily" (Pliny), from Greek skhistos "divided, separated," from skhizein "to split" (from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split"). The rock splits easily in layers. Related: Schistic.ETD schist (n.).2

    schistosome (n.)

    "parasite of the genus Schistosoma" (1905); the genus name (1858) is a Modern Latin formation from Greek skhistos "divided, cloven" (from skhizein "to split;" see schizo-) + sōma "body" (see somato-). Related: Schistosomatosis "disease caused by schistosomes" (1906).ETD schistosome (n.).2

    schizo (n.)

    1945, "person having schizophrenia," a slang shortening of schizophrenic. As an adjective by 1957. Alternative form schiz is by 1955 as a noun, 1960 as an adjective.ETD schizo (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "division; split, cleavage," from Latinized form of Greek skhizo-, combining form ("irregular," says OED) of skhizein "to split, cleave, part, separate" (from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split").ETD schizo-.2

    schizoid (adj.)

    "resembling schizophrenia" but less severe, 1925, from German schizoid (1921), from the first element of schizophrenia + Latinized form of Greek -oeidēs "like," from eidos "form, shape" (see -oid).ETD schizoid (adj.).2

    schizophrenic (adj.)

    "characteristic of or having schizophrenia," 1912 (in translations of Bleuler); see schizophrenia + -ic. Also from 1912 as a noun, "schizophrenic person;" another attempted noun formation in English was schizophrene (by 1925), from German. Transferred adjectival sense of "contradictory, inconsistent" is by 1955. The jargon of psychology also produced schizophrenogenic "tending to spark or inspire schizophrenia."ETD schizophrenic (adj.).2

    schizophrenia (n.)

    1909, a broad term for a range of more or less severe mental disorders involving a breakdown of the relation between thought, emotion, and action; literally "a splitting of the mind," from German Schizophrenie (1908), coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), from Latinized form of Greek skhizein "to split" (from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split") + phrēn (genitive phrenos) "heart, mind" (hence phrenes "wits, sanity"), for which see phreno-.ETD schizophrenia (n.).2

    schlemazel (n.)

    also schlimazel, etc., "born loser, unlucky person," 1948, from Yiddish phrase shlim mazel "rotten luck," from Middle High German slim "crooked" (see slim (adj.)) + Hebrew mazzal "luck" (as in mazel tov). British slang shemozzle "an unhappy plight" (1889) probably is from the same source. Compare schlemiel.ETD schlemazel (n.).2

    schlemiel (n.)

    "awkward, clumsy person," 1868, from Yiddish shlemiel "bungler," from main character in German poet Adelbert von Chamisso's popular fable "Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte" ("The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl," 1813); probably the word ultimately is from the Biblical name Shelumiel (Numbers i.6), chief of the tribe of Simeon, identified with the Simeonite prince Zimri ben Salu, who was killed while committing adultery. Compare schlemazel.ETD schlemiel (n.).2

    schlep (n.)

    "stupid person, loser," 1939, short for schlepper "person of little worth" (1934), in Yiddish, "fool, beggar, scrounger," from schlep (v.) "to carry or drag." For sense evolution, compare drag (n.) "annoying dull person."ETD schlep (n.).2

    schlep (v.)

    "to carry or drag," 1922 (in Joyce's "Ulysses"), from Yiddish shlepen "to drag," from Middle High German sleppen, which is related to Old High German sleifen "to drag," and slifan "to slide, slip" (cognate with Middle English slippen; see slip (v.)). Related: Schlepped; schlepping.ETD schlep (v.).2

    schlock (n.)

    1915, "cheap, shoddy, or defective goods," from American Yiddish shlak, from German Schlacke "dregs, scum, dross" (see slag (n.)). Alternative etymology [OED] is from Yiddish shlogn "to strike" (cognate with German schlagen; see slay). Mostly commercial at first, by mid-20c. in reference to fiction, movies, television programming, etc. Derived form schlockmeister is by 1953; "purveyor of cheap products," though originally it had a more specific sense in show-biz.ETD schlock (n.).2

    Adjectival form schlocky is attested from 1968; schlock was used as an adjective from 1916.ETD schlock (n.).3

    schlong (n.)

    "penis," 1969, from Yiddish shlang, literally "snake." Compare schmuck. As a verb, "to have sex with," by 2005. Related: Schlonged; schlonging.ETD schlong (n.).2

    schlub (n.)

    "worthless oaf," 1964, from Yiddish, perhaps from Polish żłób in a sense "blockhead."ETD schlub (n.).2


    substituted for the initial sound of a word and reduplicated with it to convey derision (as in "Oedipus schmoedipus" in the punchline of the old joke about the Jewish mother and the psychiatrist), 1929, from the numerous Yiddish words that begin with this sound.ETD schm-.2

    schmaltz (n.)

    "banal or excessive sentimentalism," 1935, from Yiddish shmalts, literally "melted fat," from Middle High German smalz, from Old High German smalz "animal fat," related to smelzan "to melt" (see smelt (v.)). Modern German Schmalz "fat, grease" has the same figurative meaning.ETD schmaltz (n.).2

    Also in Jewish-American cookery, in schmaltz herring (by 1914).ETD schmaltz (n.).3

    schmaltzy (adj.)

    "sentimentalized," 1935, from schmaltz + -y (2). Related: Schmaltziness.ETD schmaltzy (adj.).2

    schmear (n.)

    also schmeer, 1961, "bribery," from Yiddish shmir "spread," from shmirn "to grease, smear," from Middle High German smiren, from Old High German smirwen "to smear" (see smear (v.); compare slang grease (someone's) palm "to bribe"). Phrase the whole schmear "the entire affair" is attested by 1969, originally show business jargon,ETD schmear (n.).2

    schmendrick (n.)

    "stupid person," 1944, from Yiddish shmendrik, from the name of a character in an 1877 operetta ("Shmendrik, oder Di komishe Chaseneh") by Avrom Goldfaden (1840-1908), "Father of Yiddish Theater."ETD schmendrick (n.).2

    Schmidt (n.)

    type of astronomical telescope lens used for photography, 1939, named for Estonian-born German optician Bernhard Voldemar Schmidt (1879-1935), who is said to have invented it.ETD Schmidt (n.).2

    schmoe (n.)

    also schmo, "idiot, fool," by 1948, probably a euphemized form of schmuck.ETD schmoe (n.).2

    schmoo (n.)

    see shmoo.ETD schmoo (n.).2

    schmooze (v.)

    also shmooze, "to chat intimately," 1897 (schmoos), from Yiddish shmuesn "to chat," from shmues "idle talk, chat," from Hebrew shemu'oth "news, rumors." As a noun from 1939. Related: Schmoozed; schmoozing. Agent noun schmoozer is by 1909.ETD schmooze (v.).2

    schmuck (n.)

    also shmuck, "contemptible person," 1892, from East Yiddish shmok, literally "penis," probably from Old Polish smok "grass snake, dragon," and likely not the same word as German Schmuck "jewelry, adornments," which is related to Low German smuck "supple, tidy, trim, elegant," and to Old Norse smjuga "slip, step through" (see smock).ETD schmuck (n.).2

    In Jewish homes, the word was "regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo" [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish," 1968] and Lenny Bruce wrote that saying it on stage got him arrested on the West Coast "by a Yiddish undercover agent who had been placed in the club several nights running to determine if my use of Yiddish terms was a cover for profanity." Euphemized as schmoe, which was the source of Al Capp's cartoon strip creature the shmoo.ETD schmuck (n.).3

    "[A]dditional associative effects from German schmuck 'jewels, decoration' cannot be excluded (cross-linguistically commonplace slang: cf. Eng. 'family jewels')" [Mark R.V. Southern, "Contagious Couplings: Transmission of Expressives in Yiddish Echo Phrases," 2005]. But the English phrase refers to the testicles and is a play on words, the "family" element being the essential ones. Words for "decoration" seem not to be among the productive sources of European "penis" slang terms.ETD schmuck (n.).4

    schnapps (n.)

    1818, a kind of Holland gin or a strong, colorless spirit resembling it, from German Schnaps, literally "a mouthful, gulp," from Low German snaps, from snappen "to snap" (see snap (v.)). For sense, compare nip for "alcoholic drink quickly taken." Used in 19c. for "spiritous liquor of any sort;" the flavored varieties are modern.ETD schnapps (n.).2

    schnauzer (n.)

    breed of terrier with a bearded muzzle, 1923, from German Schnauzer, literally "growler," from schnauzen "to snarl, growl," from Schnauze "snout, muzzle," which is related to Middle English snute, snoute "snout" (see snout).ETD schnauzer (n.).2


    surname, German, literally "tailor" (equivalent to English Snyder), from schneiden "to cut" (see schnitzel). As a verb meaning "to defeat thoroughly," it appears to be from the game of skat, 1885, where it describes an emphatic way of winning (another way is known as a Schwartz, another German surname). It is attested in German as a skat term by 1860.ETD Schneider.2

    schnitzel (n.)

    veal cutlet (especially short for Wiener schnitzel, the style served in Vienna), 1854, from German Schnitzel "cutlet," literally "a slice," with -el, diminutive suffix + Schnitz "a cut, slice" from schnitzen "to carve," frequentative of schneiden "to cut," from Old High German snidan, from Proto-Germanic *sneithanan (source also of Old English sniþan, Middle Dutch sniden, Old Frisian snida, -snitha). This is sometimes said to be from a PIE root *sneit- "to cut," but Boutkan gives no IE etymology and has it as "Likely to be a North European substratum etymon."ETD schnitzel (n.).2

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