gaunt (adj.)

"lean and haggard," from or as if from hunger, mid-15c. (as a surname from mid-13c.), of uncertain origin; perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse gand "a thin stick," also "a tall thin man") and somehow connected with the root of gander. Connection also has been suggested to Old French jaunet "yellowish" [The Middle English Compendium].

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raw-boned (adj.)

"having little flesh on the bones, gaunt," 1590s (Shakespeare), from raw (adj.) + bone (n.).

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hagged (adj.)
c. 1700, from hag, by influence of haggard. Originally "bewitched," also "lean, gaunt," as bewitched persons and animals were believed to become.
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spare (adj.)
"kept in reserve, not used, provided or held for extra need," late 14c., from or from the same root as spare (v.). Old English had spær "sparing, frugal." Also compare Old Norse sparr "(to be) spared." In reference to time, from mid-15c.; sense of "lacking in substance; lean, gaunt; flimsy, thin; poor," is recorded from 1540s. Spare part is attested from 1888. Spare tire is from 1894 of bicycles; 1903 of automobiles; 1961 of waistlines.
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1086, Loncastre, literally "Roman Fort on the River Lune," a Celtic river name probably meaning "healthy, pure." In English history, the Lancastrians or House of Lancaster in the War of the Roses were the branch of the Plantagenets descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Lancastrian (1650s) is the usual adjective with places of that name; Lancasterian (1807) was used of the teaching methods popularized early 19c. by educator Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838).
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scraggy (adj.)

early 13c., scraggi, "rough, jagged" (figurative); 1570s, of landscape, "rough, rugged, stumpy;" 1610s, of persons or animals, "gaunt and wasted, lean, thin, bony;" see scrag (n.) + -y (2), and compare scroggy, scraggly, scrawny. In the landscape sense perhaps via scrag in the obsolete sense of "stump of a tree, rough projection from a trunk" (1560s), which had various spellings. In Scottish and Northern English, scranky "lean, slender, scraggy" (18c.). Related: Scraggily; scragginess.

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thrush (n.1)

type of songbird, Old English þræsce, variant of þrysce, from Proto-Germanic *thruskjon (source also of Old Norse þröstr, Norwegian trost, Old High German drosca), from PIE *trozdo- (source also of Latin turdus, Lithuanian strazdas "thrush," Middle Irish truid, Welsh drudwy "starling," Old Church Slavonic drozgu, Russian drozdu).

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
[Hardy, "The Darkling Thrush," Dec. 31, 1900]
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haggard (adj.)

1560s, "wild, unruly" (originally in reference to hawks), from French haggard, probably from Old French faulcon hagard "wild falcon," literally "falcon of the woods," from hagard, hagart, from Middle High German hag "hedge, copse, wood," from Proto-Germanic *hagon, from PIE root *kagh- "to catch, seize;" also "wickerwork, fence" (see hedge (n.)). OED, however, finds this derivation "very doubtful." Sense perhaps reinforced by Low German hager "gaunt, haggard." Sense of "with a haunted and wild expression" first recorded 1690s; that of "careworn" first recorded 1853. Sense influenced by association with hag. Related: Haggardly; haggardness.

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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.

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."

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cracker (n.2)

Southern U.S. derogatory term for "poor, white trash" (1766), probably an agent noun from crack (v.) in the sense "to boast" (as in not what it's cracked up to be). Cracker "a boaster, a braggart" is attested from c. 1500; also see crack (n.). Compare Latin crepare "to rattle, crack, creak," with a secondary figurative sense of "boast of, prattle, make ado about."

I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. [letter from colonial officer Gavin Cochrane to the Earl of Dartmouth, June 27, 1766]

But DARE compares corn-cracker "Kentuckian," also "poor, low-class white farmer of Georgia and North Carolina" (1835, U.S. Midwest colloquial).

The word was used especially of Georgians by 1808, though often extended to residents of northern Florida. Another name in mid-19c. use was sand-hiller "poor white in Georgia or South Carolina."

Not very essentially different is the condition of a class of people living in the pine-barrens nearest the coast [of South Carolina], as described to me by a rice-planter. They seldom have any meat, he said, except they steal hogs, which belong to the planters, or their negroes, and their chief diet is rice and milk. "They are small, gaunt, and cadaverous, and their skin is just the color of the sand-hills they live on. They are quite incapable of applying themselves steadily to any labor, and their habits are very much like those of the old Indians." [Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States," 1856]
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