"scurve", noun, = 'contemptible person', 1730; not in OED

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 9 13:23:47 UTC 2012

1925 _Adventure Magazine_ (Dec. 20) 16: Ain't they the scurves!

1928 Leonard H. Nason _Sergeant Eadie_ 226 [ref. to 1918]: Ah, that scurve.
He deserved a beating.

1935 Nelson Algren _Somebody in Boots_ [rpt. N.Y.: Berkley, 1965]  95: That
blonde scurve ain't young no more, Red.  Ibid. 168: That's the way with
these cheap scurves every time.
1976 Clark Whelton _CB Baby_ [N.Y.: Avon] 9: If...New York City was dying,
it was because of people like those two scurvs [sic] in the Buick.

2006 UrbanDictionary.com: _Scurve_ Word primarily used in Nebraska, short
from the disease "scurvey", a dirty disease, used to describe one who
rarely bathes, trailer trash, low income, goth-like, whining brats. Used to
describe a teenager or young person who smokes, drinks, and is involved in
other vices.

The 1935 nuance is "slut."

Why the gap between 1730 and 1925 I don't know. If I'd noticed an interim
ex. I'd have jotted it down.


On Sun, Sep 9, 2012 at 1:22 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "scurve", noun, = 'contemptible person', 1730; not in OED
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "We have just published a Silly Rapsody of Puerilities,
> Impertinencies and Scurrilities, by way of a Letter to Mr Boylston;
> it is beneath any Answer, and serves only to expose a Scurve, this
> Writer, and his Friend Mr. Boylston whom he Ridicules by Burlesquing
> his assumed Title and celebrated Practice."
> Boston Gazette, 1730 March 16, 2/1.  EAN.
> "scurve", noun, = 'contemptible person', 1730; not in OED.  This is
> "scurvy, adj.", sense 2.a., "Sorry, worthless, contemptible. Said
> both of persons and things" (used by Swift and Smollet around this
> time, and Shakespeare earlier but not originally), transformed into a noun.
> The "just published ... Silly Rapsody" is Samuel Mather's
> anonymously-published "A Letter to Doctor Zabdiel Boylston,"
> defending Boylston against William Douglass's attack in his
> "Dissertation Concerning Inoculation".  Thus the "Scurve, this
> Writer", unnamed by but likely known to the BG letter-writer, is Samuel
> Mather.
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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