"scoff" (tr.)

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Tue Dec 15 20:26:06 UTC 2009

> On a final exam paper a student wrote, "But the recipient of the poem
> scoffs him: 'Proudly thou scorn'st my World-out-wearing Rimes.'"  That
> transitive "scoff" seems very odd to me; I would have assumed it's a
> mistake for "scorns" if the actual word "scorn'st" didn't follow
> immediately in the quoted line. However, the OED does give transitive
> "scoff," marked "Obs. exc. U.S.," with the most recent attestation from
> 1892. Google shows a slender few thousand instances of "scoff(s)
> him/her/them."
> --Charlie

Sounds positively Shakespearean -- "Dost think to scoff me, my lord?  May
the Devil bite thy harns, thou rabid raging-breeks!"


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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