scapular (adj.)
1680s, "pertaining to the scapula," from Modern Latin scapularis, from Latin scapula "shoulder" (see scapula). The noun (late 15c., also in Old English) in reference to a short cloak for the shoulders prescribed for certain monks, is from Medieval Latin scapulare, from scapula. Related: Scapulary.
scapulimancy (n.)
divination by means of the cracks in a shoulder-blade put into a fire, 1871, from comb. form of scapula + -mancy.
scar (v.)
1550s, from scar (n.1). Figurative use from 1590s. Related: Scarred; scarring.
scar (n.1)
late 14c., from Old French escare "scab" (Modern French escarre), from Late Latin eschara, from Greek eskhara "scab formed after a burn," literally "hearth, fireplace," of unknown origin. English sense probably influenced by Middle English skar (late 14c.) "crack, cut, incision," from Old Norse skarð, related to score (n.). Figurative sense attested from 1580s.
scar (n.2)
"bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain," 1670s, earlier "rock, crag" (14c.), from Old Norse sker "isolated rock or low reef in the sea," from Proto-Germanic *sker- "to cut" (from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut") on the notion of "something cut off."
scarab (n.)
"black dung beetle," held sacred by the ancient Egyptians, 1570s, from Middle 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.
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 Italian actor Tiberio Fiurelli (1608-1694) in the part.
Scarborough
place in Yorkshire, earlier Scarðabork, etc., apparently a viking name, from Old Norse and meaning "fortified place of a man called Skarthi," 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. Scarborough warning "short notice or none" is from 1540s.
scarce (adj.)
c. 1300, "restricted in quantity," from Old North French scars "scanty, scarce" (Old French eschars, Modern French échars) from Vulgar Latin *scarsus, from *escarpsus, from *excarpere "pluck out," from classical Latin excerpere "pluck out" (see excerpt). As an adverb early 14c. from the adjective. Phrase to make oneself scarce "go away" first attested 1771, noted as a current "cant phrase." Related: Scarcely.
scarcity (n.)
c. 1300, from Old North French escarcete (Old French escharsete), from eschars (see scarce).
scare (v.)
1590s, alteration of Middle English skerren (c. 1200), from Old Norse skirra "to frighten; to shrink from, shun; to prevent, avert," related to skjarr "timid, shy, afraid of," of unknown origin. In Scottish also skair, skar, and in dialectal English skeer, skear, which seems to preserve the older pronunciation. To scare up "procure, obtain" is first recorded 1846, American English, from notion of rousing game from cover. Related: Scared; scaring.
scare (n.)
"something that frightens; sudden panic, sudden terror inspired by a trifling cause, false alarm," 1520s, alteration of Middle English sker "fear, dread" (c. 1400), from scare (v.). Scare tactic attested from 1948.
scare-monger (n.)
also scaremonger, 1888, from scare (n.) + monger (n.).
scarecrow (n.)
1550s, from scare (v.) + crow (n.). Earliest reference is to a person employed to scare birds. Meaning "device of straw and cloth in grotesque resemblance of a man, set up in a grain field or garden to frighten crows," is implied by 1580s; hence "gaunt, ridiculous person" (1590s). 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).
scared (adj.)
past participle adjective from scare (v.). Scared stiff first recorded 1900; scared shitless is from 1936. Scaredy-cat "timid person" first attested 1906.
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," of unknown origin [Klein]. As a cold-weather covering for the neck, first recorded 1844. Plural scarfs began to yield to scarves early 18c., on model of half/halves, etc.
scarf (v.)
"eat hastily," 1960, U.S. teen slang, originally a noun meaning "food, meal" (1932), perhaps imitative, or from scoff (attested in a similar sense from 1846). Or perhaps from a dialectal survival of Old English sceorfan "to gnaw, bite" (see scarf (n.2)); a similar word is found in a South African context in the 1600s. Related: Scarfed; scarfing.
scarf (n.2)
"connecting joint," late 13c., 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), from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut." Also used as a verb. Also borrowed into Romanic (French écart, Spanish escarba).
scarification (n.)
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, 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."
scarify (v.)
mid-15c., "make incisions in the bark of a tree," from Middle 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." The sense "cover with scars" (1680s) is a sense-shift from influence of scar (v.). Related: Scarified; scarifier; scarifying.
scarily (adv.)
1845, "timidly;" 1967, "unnervingly," in a positive sense; see scary + -ly (2).
scarlatina (n.)
1803, from Modern Latin scarlatina (Sydenham, 1676), from Italian scarlattina (Lancelotti, 1527), fem. of scarlattino (adj.), diminutive of scarlatto "scarlet" (see scarlet). It is a synonym for scarlet fever, not a milder form of it. Related: Scarlattinal.
scarlet (n.)
mid-13c., "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."

In English as the name of a color, attested from late 14c. As an adjective from c. 1300. Scarlet lady, etc. (Isaiah i.18, Revelations xvii.1-5) is from notion of "red with shame or indignation." Scarlet fever is from 1670s, so called for its characteristic rash. Scarlet oak, a New World tree, attested from 1590s. Scarlet letter traces to Hawthorne's story (1850). German Scharlach, Dutch scharlaken show influence of words cognate with English lake (n.2).
scarp (n.)
"steep slope," 1580s, from Italian scarpa "slope," 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."
scarred (adj.)
mid-15c., past participle adjective from scar (v.). Transferred use by c. 1600.
scary (adj.)
also scarey, "terrifying," 1580s, from scare (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "easily frightened, subject to scares" is from 1800. Related: Scarier; scariest.
scat (interj.)
"go away!" 1838, from expression quicker than s'cat "in a great hurry," probably representing a hiss followed by the word cat.
scat (n.1)
"nonsense patter sung to jazz," 1926, probably of imitative origin, from one of the syllables used. As a verb, 1935, from the noun. Related: Scatting.
scat (n.2)
"filth, dung," 1950, from Greek stem skat- "dung" (see scatology).
scathe (v.)
c. 1200, from Old Norse skaða "to hurt, harm, damage, injure," from Proto-Germanic *skath- (source also of Old English sceaþian "to hurt, injure," Old Saxon skathon, Old Frisian skethia, Middle Dutch scaden, Dutch schaden, Old High German scadon, German schaden, Gothic scaþjan "to injure, damage"), from PIE root *sket- "to injure." Only cognate outside Germanic seems to be in Greek a-skethes "unharmed, unscathed."

It survives mostly in its negative form, unscathed, and in figurative meaning "sear with invective or satire" (1852, usually as scathing) which developed from the sense of "scar, scorch" used by Milton in "Paradise Lost" i.613 (1667).
scathing (adj.)
1794 in literal sense, present participle adjective from scathe (v.). Of words, speech, etc., from 1852. Related: Scathingly.
scatology (n.)
"obscene literature," 1876, with -logy "treatise, study" + Greek skat-, stem of skor (genitive skatos) "excrement," from PIE *sker- "excrement, dung" (source also of Latin stercus "dung"), literally "to cut off;" see shear (v.), and compare shit (v.). Related: Scatological (1886).
scatter (v.)
mid-12c. (transitive), possibly a northern English variant of Middle English schateren (see shatter), reflecting Norse influence. Intransitive sense from early 15c. Related: Scattered; scattering. As a noun from 1640s.
scatterbrain (n.)
also scatter-brain, "thoughtless, giddy person, one incapable of serious, connected thought," 1764 (scatter-brained), from scatter (v.) + brain (n.). Related: Scatterbrained. Compare scatter-good "spendthrift."
scattering (n.)
mid-14c., "that which has been strewn about;" late 14c., "act of dispersing," verbal noun from scatter (v.).
scattershot (adj.)
1959, figurative use of term for a kind of gun charge meant to broadcast the pellets when fired (1940), from scatter (v.) + shot (n.).
scavenge (v.)
1640s, back-formation from scavenger. Related: Scavenged; scavenging.
scavenger (n.)
1540s, originally "person hired to remove refuse from streets," from Middle English scawageour (late 14c.), London official in charge of collecting tax on goods sold by foreign merchants, from Anglo-French scawager, from scawage "toll or duty 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.)).

It has come to be regarded as an agent noun in -er, but the verb is a late back-formation from the noun. With unetymological -n- (c. 1500) as in harbinger, passenger, messenger, etc. Extended to animals 1590s. Scavenger hunt is attested from 1937.
scenario (n.)
1868, "sketch of the plot of a play," from Italian scenario, from Late Latin scenarius "of stage scenes," from Latin scena "scene" (see scene). Meaning "imagined situation" is first recorded 1960, in reference to hypothetical nuclear wars.
scenary (n.)
1690s, obsolete nativized form of Italian scenario (see scenario).
scene (n.)
1530s, "subdivision of an act of a play," also "stage-setting," from Middle French scène (14c.), from Latin scaena, scena "scene, stage of a theater," from Greek skene "wooden stage for actors," also "that which is represented on stage," originally "tent or booth," related to skia "shadow, shade," via notion of "something that gives shade" (see Ascians). 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."

Meaning "material apparatus of a theatrical stage" is from 1540s. Meaning "place in which the action of a literary work occurs" is attested from 1590s; general (non-literary) sense of "place where anything is done or takes place" is recorded from 1590s. Hence U.S. slang sense of "setting or milieu for a specific group or activity," attested from 1951 in Beat jargon. Meaning "stormy encounter between two or more persons" is attested from 1761. Behind the scenes "having knowledge of affairs not apparent to the public" (1660s) is an image from the theater, "amid actors and stage machinery" (out of sight of the audience). Scene of the crime (1923) first attested in Agatha Christie.
scenery (n.)
"decoration of a theater stage," 1770, earlier scenary; see scene + -ery. Meaning "a landscape or view, a pictorial scene" is from 1777.
scenic (adj.)
1620s, "of or belonging to the stage or drama, theatrical," from French scénique (14c.) and directly from Latin scaenicus "dramatic, theatrical," from Greek skenikos, from skene (see scene). Meaning "of or belonging to natural scenery" is recorded from 1842. Of roads, etc., "offering fine views," recorded since 1885. Scenic railway is recorded from 1886. Related: Scenically.
scent (n.)
late 14c., "scent, smell, what can be smelled" (as a means of pursuit by a hound), from scent (v.). Almost always applied to agreeable odors.
scent (v.)
late 14c., sent "to find the scent of," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from Latin sentire " to feel, perceive, sense, discern, hear, see" (see sense (n.)).

Originally a hunting term. The -c- appeared 17c., perhaps by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science. This was a tendency in early Modern English, also in scythe and for a time threatening to make scite and scituate. Figurative use from 1550s. Transitive sense "impregnate with an odor, perfume" is from 1690s. Related: Scented; scenting.
scented (adj.)
1570s, "endowed with the power of smell;" 1740, "perfumed," past participle adjective from scent (v.).
scepter (n.)
c. 1300, ceptre, from Old French sceptre (12c.), from Latin sceptrum "royal staff," from Greek skeptron "staff to lean on; royal scepter;" in transferred use, "royalty," from root of skeptein "to prop or stay, lean on." Apparently a cognate with Old English sceaft (see shaft (n.1)). The verb meaning "to furnish with a scepter" is from 1520s. Related: sceptred.
sceptic (n.)
chiefly British English spelling of skeptic (q.v.). Related: Sceptical; sceptically; scepticism.
sceptre
chiefly British English spelling of scepter (q.v.); for spelling, see -re. Related: Sceptred.
sch-
this letter group 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, 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).