c. 1300, scauberc, "a sheath for a sword or similar weapon," from Anglo-French *escauberc (13c.), from Frankish or another Germanic source (compare (source also of Old High German scarberc), from Proto-Germanic *sker-berg-, literally "sword-protector," from *skar "blade" (source also of Old High German scar "scissors, blade, sword," from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut") + *berg- "protect" (source also of Old High German bergan "to protect;" from PIE root *bhergh- (1) "to hide, protect").
The spelling in English after late 14c. was conformed to words in -ard. A different Middle English scabbard meant "one suffering from scabies" (c. 1300 as a surname). In Old French and Middle English scabbard also was occasionally "the vagina."
updated on January 11, 2022