a scup; scupping

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Nov 18 16:13:37 UTC 2013

* The OED has for "scup", noun:*
A swing.

1848   J. R. Bartlett *Dict. Americanisms
Scup... A New York word.

1849   S. Warner *Wide Wide World
 xi,   A scup! maybe you don't know it by that name [said Mr. Van Brunt];
some..folks call it a swing.
 For the verb, it has:
(See quot. 1848<http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:2181/view/Entry/173913?rskey=3yv1FQ&result=3&isAdvanced=true#eid23860247>
1848   J. R. Bartlett *Dict. Americanisms
,   *To Scup*..to swing. Common in New York.

Here is a free-range "scup", noun and verb"; in addition, the description
is more specific than what the citations in the OED offer:

In this same neighborhood were numbers amusing themselves by scupping, boat
scups being erected for the purpose, and as they were put in motion by the
occupants hauling a rope attached to the top of the frame to which the scup
was hung, the exercise was very beneficial, as the rapid passage through
the air was also pleasant.  Attached to this was a "round-about" for the
amusement of children. . . .
     NY Herald, July 30, 1860, p. 1, col. 2

This ride sounds like a common carnival ride, these days, rather than what
I'd call a swing.  The carnival ride would be motorized, and I can't figure
how the riders in the scups could achieve anything like the centrifugal
out-swing of the modern rides, while staying within reach of the ropes.
 Perhaps this was more like a merry-go-round, with the scups fixed to a
revolving platform -- but they are below the frame, not resting on it.

The ride was in a park called Jones' Wood, on the East River.

There was a rider-propelled merry-go-round sort of ride at Hoboken, about
this time.  My impression of that has been, that the riders moved it by
kicking against the ground, but perhaps they pulled it around, like this

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

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

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