"to run quickly, hasten away," 1680s, probably from Flemish schampeeren, frequentative of schampen "run away," from Old North French escamper (Old French eschamper) "to run away, flee, quit the battlefield, escape," from Vulgar Latin *excampare "decamp," literally "leave the field," from Latin ex campo, from ex "out of" (see ex-) + campo, ablative of campus "field" (see campus).
A vogue word late 17c.; "Not improbably the word was originally military slang" [OED]. Related: Scampered; scampering. The noun is 1680s, "a hasty run or flight," from the verb.
updated on January 14, 2022