scrim·​shan·​der ˈskrim-ˌshan-dər How to pronounce scrimshander (audio)
: a person who creates scrimshaw

Did you know?

Scrimshaw is a distinctly North American folk art, but no one knows just where it started or how it got its name. Native peoples of Alaska and Canada have carved ivory for centuries, but when "scrimshaw" is used in modern English, it is most often associated with 18th- and 19th-century whalers of the ilk Herman Melville described as "examining ... divers specimens of skrimshander" in Moby Dick (1851). As you can see from Melville's example, "scrimshander" was originally a synonym of "scrimshaw" (back then, the artists were most likely called "scrimshoners"). "Scrimshaw" and "scrimshander" may have originated with the surname of a sailor who was particularly skilled at the art, but if such an individual did exist, he is unknown today.

Examples of scrimshander in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One piece, thought to be his earliest (c. 1825), engraved on the Japan, a whaler off Nantucket, is in the show, as are three by the most famous early scrimshander, Frederick Myrick (1808-1862): teeth with meticulous images of the whaling ship Susan, and engraved with fine technical precision. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, 29 July 2022 Bell, a scrimshander, also sold nine carved whale teeth to customers in the U.S. for a total value of $20,300 between June 2007 and April 2008. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, 6 June 2018

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

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of scrimshander was in 1851


Dictionary Entries Near scrimshander

Cite this Entry

“Scrimshander.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

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