Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Scapegrace

scapegrace [skeyp-greys]

1 (archaic) a mischievous or wayward person, especially a young person or child; a rascal
2 something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering; anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, especially of sorrow or trouble.


The Middle Ages died dismally, and the scapegrace poet Francois Villon sang their requiem in the wineshops of the Cité. (Kenneth Macleish, Adored, neglected, and restored: A 1968 Nat Geo feature explored Notre Dame, National Geographic, April 2019)

Hayward’s fruity baritone provides a firm foundation for a wide-ranging portrayal of the title role that encompasses the archetypal breadth of the elderly scapegrace while humanising his fallibility. (David Kittredge, A Falstaff for the annals at the Grange Festival, Financial Times, June 2019)

So Aladdin is a scapegrace, an idler, but he's frank and courageous, and the Moor who pretends to be his uncle is a deceiver all through. (Philip Pullman, Aye, there's the rub, The Guardian, Nov 2005)

Bluck, the neglected young pupil of three-and-twenty from the agricultural district, and that idle young scapegrace of a Master Todd before mentioned, received little eighteen-penny books, with "Athene" engraved on them, and a pompous Latin inscription from the professor to his young friends. (William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair )

Yes they can, aunt, if she married a man whom she knew to be a scapegrace because he was very rich and an earl. (Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?)


At first glance, you might think 'scapegrace' has something in common with 'scapegoat,' our word for a person who takes the blame for someone else’s mistake or calamity. Indeed, the words do share a common source - the verb 'scape,' a variant of 'escape' that was once far more common than it is today. 'Scapegrace,' which first appeared in English in the mid-18th century (over 200 years after 'scapegoat'), arrived at its meaning through its literal interpretation as 'one who has escaped the grace of God.' (Two now-obsolete words based on a similar notion are scape-thrift, meaning 'spendthrift,' and 'want-grace,' a synonym of 'scapegrace.') In ornithological circles, 'scapegrace' can also refer to a loon with a red throat, but this sense is rare. (Merriam-Webster)

1767, from scape (v.) + grace (n.); as if it meant 'one who escapes the grace of God.' (Online Etymology Dictionary)

Tags: archaic, english: georgian, noun, s, wordsmith: sallymn

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