Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Jun 28 03:20:57 UTC 2009

Michael Sheehan wrote:
> .... Can someone direct me to the origin of scroot, meaning a mutt?
> Citations:
> o     1907 October, Josephine Tozier, A Spring Fortnight in France, Dodd,
> page 183,
>            "...I would be willing to ride in any kind of a car. I would
> even go in a scroot, if
>            necessary."
>            "What in the world is a scroot, Margot?"
>            "It is only my name for one of those nasty little, smelly,
> noisy, ancient automobiles
>            that go shaking past our country place at home. I stole the word
> from papa. It is
>            what he calls a ragged little cur, just plain dog. My scroot is
> just plain ragged
>            motor, without fancy trimmings."
> o     1920, Herschel S. Hall, Steel Preferred, E.P. Dutton, page 34,
>            "The young whelp!" he roared to Nicker. "The yellow scroot! Why,
> the bloody
>            little boozer!"
> o     2005, Edgar Martin, Boots and the Mystery of the Unlucky Vase,
> Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1417986026, chapter 4,
>        page 73,
>            The blamed hound, the mangy scroot!

I think the usual proposed derivation would be from "croot" =
"runt"/"dwarf"/"sickly child" (in the Scots National Dictionary on-line,
presumably from English "croot" [OED "obsolete rare"]).

This is speculatively from Welsh "crwt" = "boy" but I suppose maybe one
could alternatively speculate "croot" < "crooked".

The "s-" is apparently a frequent dialectal augmentation: Joseph Wright
gives many examples of this including Northampton "scroot" vs. "croot":


-- Doug Wilson


The American Dialect Society -

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