Printable Version
Pronunciation: skæ-brês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Scaly, rough, rugged, encrusted, as 'scabrous bark'. 2. Risque, salacious, indecent, shockingly rude, as in 'a scabrous remark'. 3. (Style) Harsh, unpolished, rough (writing) as in 'a scabrous draft'.

Notes: Today's adjective has been separated from its origin, scab, however it might be used to refer to something or someone covered with scabs. The noun is scabrousness and the adverb, scabrously.

In Play: A house with peeling paint is the perfect example of today's Good Word: "Owen Cash lived in a house so long ignored, its exterior had become scabrous." However, the second meaning of this word is used far more frequently today than its first: "When Randy Farmer asked for a kiss from Lucy Lastik, she responded in such scabrous language that everyone was stunned."

Word History: The source of today's Good Word is Latin scabrosus "rough" from scaber "rough, scaly", which came from scabere "to scratch, scrape, shave". We borrowed scrabrous from Latin, but the Proto-Indo-European word that provided scabere in Latin (something like skab- "to scrape, scratch"), came though our Old Germanic ancestors as shape, scab, and shave in English. (English is also an Indo-European language.) The other meanings of the English word, "vulgar, nasty, repulsive" are recent developments, since the 1880s. (Thanks to Lew Jury, a smooth subscriber who sent us this excellent if rough Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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