scape·​grace | \ ˈskāp-ˌgrās How to pronounce scapegrace (audio) \

Definition of scapegrace

: an incorrigible rascal

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Did You Know?

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.

Examples of scapegrace in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Suddenly, Juliana’s romantic ennui is interrupted by the reappearance, after an 11-year absence, of her scapegrace oldest brother. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, "First published in 1924, ‘Still She Wished for Company’ makes for a delicious, if bittersweet Valentine’s Day treat," 12 Feb. 2020 The Middle Ages died dismally, and the scapegrace poet Francois Villon sang their requiem in the wineshops of the Cité. Bruce Dale, National Geographic, "Adored, neglected, and restored: A 1968 Nat Geo feature explored Notre Dame," 17 Apr. 2019 Somehow, a theme-park ride combined with clever, madcap visuals and Johnny Depp’s scapegrace showboating added up to something fresh. A. O. Scott, New York Times, "Review: ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales.’ Not Very Well, Anyway.," 25 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of scapegrace

1763, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scapegrace

scape entry 1

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The first known use of scapegrace was in 1763

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Cite this Entry

“Scapegrace.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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