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

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Sep 9 05:22:47 UTC 2012

"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.


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

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