• scupper •
skêp-êr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, verb
Meaning: 1. (Noun) an opening through a wall for draining water, as from the deck of a ship or a flat roof. 2. (Verb) To scuttle, to deliberately sink a ship. 3. To thwart or ruin, (in battle) to massacre.
Notes: Today's Good Word has no lexical relatives but may be used as a noun and verb, though with different meanings. This word is often used in the UK, whereas Americans would say scuttle.
In Play: The noun occurs often in connection with sailing vessels: "Ships loaded to the scuppers with furs, tobacco, silver and gold sailed to Europe from the Americas on a regular basis." The verbal use is semantically far removed from the nominal usage: "The president scuppered plans for reorganizing the department over cost concerns."
Word History: Scupper seems to be an instrumental noun from an ancestor of scoop. This word is related to German schöpfen "to bail, scoop out" and Dutch schop "shovel". In fact, it is related to English shovel and shove, too. All these words originated in PIE skeub-/skoub- "to throw, push", which shows up in German schieben "push, thrust", Norwegian skubba "push", Lithuanian skubinti "hurry, hasten" and skubus "hurried, urgent, pressing". (Lexiterian David Myer suggested today's rather British Good Word. For his impression of it, see his discussion in the Alpha Agora.)
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