scal·​a·​wag ˈska-li-ˌwag How to pronounce scalawag (audio)
variants or scallywag
: a white Southerner acting in support of the reconstruction governments after the American Civil War often for private gain

Example Sentences

a scalawag who had taken to begging on street corners while posing as a blind person
Recent Examples on the Web Chadha-Patel is ambiguously charming as a scalawag not entirely out for himself. cleveland, 1 Dec. 2022 Chadha-Patel is ambiguously charming as a scalawag not entirely out for himself. Robert Lloydtelevision Critic, Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2022 At 51, Hartig is more the fun, loony uncle than the mischievous scalawag—a somewhat shy eccentric with angst disguised as devil-may-care. Christina Binkley, Town & Country, 24 Feb. 2022 Neither a political hero nor a rogue, neither a statesman nor a scalawag, Dole embodied the complexities of deal-making on Capitol Hill. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 6 Dec. 2021 Louisville’s Brown-Forman is accusing rum-peddling partner Bacardi of being a scalawag. Alfred Miller, The Courier-Journal, 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,, 20 Aug. 2019 Mark Twain's Mississippi, alive with steamboats, scalawags, and gamblers, has a hold on us still. CBS News, 7 July 2019 Salvatore Lodi made his debut as Little Mouse, while Kellan Hayag was a floppy-haired, scampering scalawag Fritz. Laura Bleiberg,, 11 Dec. 2017 See More

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.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

circa 1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scalawag was circa 1848

Dictionary Entries Near scalawag

Cite this Entry

“Scalawag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



variants or scallywag
: a white Southerner acting as a Republican in the time of reconstruction after the American Civil War

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