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