scal·​a·​wag | \ ˈska-li-ˌwag How to pronounce scalawag (audio) \
variants: or

Definition of scalawag

2 : a white Southerner acting in support of the reconstruction governments after the American Civil War often for private gain

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of scalawag in a Sentence

a scalawag who had taken to begging on street corners while posing as a blind person
Recent Examples on the Web Louisville’s Brown-Forman is accusing rum-peddling partner Bacardi of being a scalawag. Alfred Miller, The Courier-Journal, "Brown-Forman says Bacardi stiffing the Jack Daniel's owner out of more than $60 million," 1 July 2020 The Old West has been larger than life ever since the first dime novelists made legends out of lawmen, outlaws, and assorted frontier scalawags. Patricia Harris,, "Thundering out of an iconic American past: The Buffalo Roundup in South Dakota’s Custer State Park," 20 Aug. 2019 Mark Twain's Mississippi, alive with steamboats, scalawags, and gamblers, has a hold on us still. CBS News, "A trip down the mighty Mississippi," 7 July 2019 Salvatore Lodi made his debut as Little Mouse, while Kellan Hayag was a floppy-haired, scampering scalawag Fritz. Laura Bleiberg,, "ABT's 'Nutcracker,' a new classic worth watching over and over (and over)," 11 Dec. 2017 Back on their own ship, the scalawags must decide how to divvy up the booty. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Riddle of the Week #17: The Pirates and Their Booty," 23 Feb. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scalawag.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of scalawag

circa 1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scalawag

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scalawag

Time Traveler for scalawag

Time Traveler

The first known use of scalawag was circa 1848

See more words from the same year

Statistics for scalawag

Cite this Entry

“Scalawag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scalawag


How to pronounce scalawag (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scalawag

informal + somewhat old-fashioned : a usually young person who causes trouble


variants: or scallywag \ ˈska-​li-​ˌwag \

Kids Definition of scalawag

More from Merriam-Webster on scalawag

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scalawag Encyclopedia article about scalawag

Comments on scalawag

What made you want to look up scalawag? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!