skin disease characterized by eruptions and inflammation, c. 1400, "the itch; scabby skin generally," from Latin scabies "mange, itch, roughness," from scabere "to scratch, scrape" (from PIE root *(s)kep-, a base forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack," source also of Gothic scaban, Old English sceafan "to scrape, shave;" Greek skaptein "to dig;" Old Church Slavonic skobli "scraper;" Lithuanian skabus "sharp," skabėti "to cut;" Lettish skabrs "splintery, sharp").
Modern medical use in reference to a contagious skin disease due to a parasitic mite is by 1814. The older name for a skin condition or disease was simply scab. Scabbed "afflicted with scabies or mange" is by c. 1300. Related: Scabious.
updated on January 11, 2022