Word of the Week (207): SCRAWP (probability 18758), by David Sutton

SCRAWP is a dialect word meaning to scratch the skin to relieve itching.

There are quite a few SCR- words with a similar meaning; I don't know whether this is just an accident of etymology or whether there is something onomatopoeic about this letter combination that suggests the action. Thus we also have SCRAB, SCRAT, SCRATTLE, SCRAWM, SCRAM and SCROB, which mean to scratch as with claws, and SCRIMP or SKRIMP, which are now used more in the figurative sense of getting money together: to scrimp and save.

And of course the primary meaning of SCRABBLE is to scratch about, appropriate enough given the amount of head-scratching the game induces.

Other words with a scratch meaning include SPAG, specifically used of cats, SCART, CLAT or CLAUT and RIT or RITT. And let us end with the fine archaic word CLAPPERCLAW, as in Shakespeare's 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', 'He will clapperclaw thee titely, bully'. (TITELY means promptly).


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