scal·a·wag | \ˈska-li-ˌwag \
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

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.

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

Statistics for scalawag

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scalawag

The first known use of scalawag was circa 1848

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scalawag



English Language Learners Definition of scalawag

: a usually young person who causes trouble


variants: or scallywag \ˈska-li-ˌwag \

Kids Definition of scalawag

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!