• scad •
skæd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A kind of fish related to the mackerel (Caranx trachurus), found in abundance off the British coasts. 2. (Obsolete slang) A dollar. 3. A large quantity, oodles, heaps.
Notes: Scad was current in the 50s and 60s in the US only in the plural, scads, meaning "lots of, much, many". Its use in the singular in the sense of "much, many" is a recent back derivation from the plural. In US slang, it may be used in a compound with the synonym oodles: scadoodles,
In Play: I think this word has escaped slanghood and established itself as a regular word in the general vocabulary: "In recent years there have been scads of presidential candidates from both parties." I could find only one use of this word in the singular: "He's installed a scad of microprocessors in that control board." (Desmond Bagley The Enemy 1977, London: Collins).
Word History: This word is of obscure origins at best. Etymonline figures it comes from the sense of "fish". It offers this quote to substantiate its case: "In July, 1834, as Mr. Yarrell informs us, most extraordinary shoals passed up the channel along the coast of Glamorganshire; their passage occupied a week, and they were evidently in pursuit of the fry of the herring. The water appeared one dark mass of fish, and they were caught by cart-loads, and might even be baled out of the water by the hands alone. (British Fish and Fisheries 1849). The Oxford English Dictionary lists it in its definition of scad as "money" without comment. The American Heritage Dictionary lists it as "origin unknown". (Let's now offer Albert Skiles scads of appreciation for yet another Good Word in a long series of suggestions he's made over scads of years.)
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