sca·​brous ˈska-brəs How to pronounce scabrous (audio)
 also  ˈskā-
: difficult, knotty
a scabrous problem
: rough to the touch: such as
: having small raised dots, scales, or points
a scabrous leaf
: covered with raised, roughened, or unwholesome patches
scabrous paint
scabrous skin
: dealing with suggestive, indecent, or scandalous themes : salacious
also : squalid
scabrously adverb
scabrousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for scabrous

rough, harsh, uneven, rugged, scabrous mean not smooth or even.

rough implies points, bristles, ridges, or projections on the surface.

a rough wooden board

harsh implies a surface or texture distinctly unpleasant to the touch.

a harsh fabric that chafes the skin

uneven implies a lack of uniformity in height, breadth, or quality.

an old house with uneven floors

rugged implies irregularity or roughness of land surface and connotes difficulty of travel.

a rugged landscape

scabrous implies scaliness or prickliness of surface.

a scabrous leaf

Examples of scabrous in a Sentence

a movie with scabrous humor
Recent Examples on the Web Brined for 24 hours, the halal chicken is enveloped in a rub whose 15 or so ingredients transform the skin into something scabrous, charred and unnerving. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2023 Nothing about this frequently brilliant but wildly contorted film is easy, neither working through the knotted narrative, nor trying to find a clear moral throughline amidst all the snide and scabrous nihilism. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 His scabrous skewering of late-night weekend comedy proved more hypnotic — and funny — than anything on late-night weekend comedy. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 What Slattery conjures instead, for some reason, is a continual sourness and decay, which gets into every crevice of the action; Jay, who works at a subs franchise, saves money by buying out-of-date cheese and meat, scabrous with green mold. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 16 June 2023 Kip’s takedowns of the pay-to-play fame seekers who cavort about the Whisky a Go Go’s stage on weekday nights to half-empty rooms with glitter cannons and paisley scarves, are scabrous enough to give the likes of Lester Bangs and Kickboy Face pause. Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times, 1 May 2023 Surfaces as varied as yoga mats and iPhone touch screens are carefully calibrated for our touch, designed to be neither too slick nor too scabrous. Adrienne Bernhard, Popular Mechanics, 20 Mar. 2023 Other rewardingly memorable voices belong to Maria Bilbao as Sweeney’s daughter, Johanna, Ruthie Ann Miles as the pitiable Beggar Woman and John Rapson as the scabrous Beadle Bamford. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2023 Deadened nerves and trauma have rendered the skin scabrous and shiny as can be seen on the patient’s forearms. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 9 Dec. 2011 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scabrous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin scabr-, scaber rough, scurfy; akin to Latin scabere to scratch — more at scab

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scabrous was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near scabrous

Cite this Entry

“Scabrous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

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