scupper

noun
scup·​per | \ ˈskə-pər \

Definition of scupper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an opening cut through the bulwarks of a ship so that water falling on deck may flow overboard
2 : an opening in the wall of a building through which water can drain from a floor or flat roof

scupper

verb
scuppered; scuppering; scuppers

Definition of scupper (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

chiefly British
: to defeat or put an end to : do in sense 1a

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Scupper Has Military Origins

Verb

All efforts to figure out where this verb came from have been defeated, including attempts to connect it to the noun scupper, a 500-year-old word for a drain opening in the side of a ship. (One conjecture, that the blood of shipboard battle was "scuppered" when it was washed down the scuppers, unfortunately lacks backing in the form of any actual evidence of the verb used this way.) All we know for sure is that scupper meant "to ambush and massacre" in 19th-century military slang. Then, just before the century turned, it found its place in a magazine story in the sense of simply "doing (someone) in." The more common modern application to things rather than people being done in or defeated didn't appear until a couple of decades into the 20th century.

Examples of scupper in a Sentence

Verb

The latest information could scupper the peace talks.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To best avoid ice dams, IBHS has created safety guidelines to follow: Keep drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts clear of debris. Madison Alcedo, Country Living, "Why You Should Always Clear Snow Off Your Roof," 19 Jan. 2018 And knitting needles can roll on deck and out the scuppers. Andrea Sachs, Philly.com, "On a Windjammer cruise in Maine, passengers knit a seaworthy yarn," 26 Oct. 2017 The towering Dupont Circle fountain is tilting, its huge top basin inching off-kilter and slowly spoiling the flow from its three scuppers. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "Where’s the water? In the nation’s capital, dry fountains mar the landscape.," 9 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

May’s government is seeking to put up a united front after months of infighting almost scuppered negotiations and raised questions about her ability to lead the country. Bloomberg.com, "May Insists on 'Bespoke' Trade Deal in Face of EU's Rebuttal," 19 Dec. 2017 Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus could scupper the transfer plans of Chelsea and Arsenal this summer. SI.com, "Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus Transfer Could Ruin Arsenal & Chelsea's Plans to Sign WC Breakout Star," 13 July 2018 Tottenham's plans to sign 22-year-old winger Anthony Martial have appeared to be scuppered, with the Manchester Evening News reporting that United are unwilling to part company with Martial. SI.com, "Tottenham Fans React as New Report Provides Update on Anthony Martial's Man Utd Future," 2 July 2018 Failure to do so means that the NATO invitation is rescinded and the EU accession process is scuppered. Washington Post, "AP Explains: What the Greek-Macedonian name deal is about," 13 June 2018 As argued by Manchester City expert Sam Lee, Sarri's appointment as Chelsea boss could potentially scupper Jorginho's move to City. SI.com, "Chelsea Ready to Derail Napoli Star's Move to Man City & End Agonising Wait for New Manager," 9 July 2018 If that is the case for officials in Bavaria, that would likely scupper Chelsea's chances of landing Higuaín this summer. SI.com, "Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski Reveals He 'Doesn't Know' Future Plans Amid Juventus Links," 25 June 2018 Kenji Fujimori, a congressman from the opposition Popular Force party, abstained along with nine others, which scuppered the impeachment. The Economist, "The short unhappy presidency of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski," 22 Mar. 2018 City were scuppered in their efforts to sign Mahrez during the last January transfer window but have finally now landed their man on a five-year contract. SI.com, "Man City Complete Club Record Signing of Leicester Winger Riyad Mahrez on 5-Year Deal," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scupper.' 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 scupper

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1899, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for scupper

Noun

Middle English skopper- (in compounds), perhaps from Anglo-French *escopoir, from escopir to spit out

Verb

origin unknown

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Dictionary Entries near scupper

Scunthorpe

scup

scuppaug

scupper

scuppernong

scupper pipe

scuppet

Statistics for scupper

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scupper

The first known use of scupper was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for scupper

scupper

noun

English Language Learners Definition of scupper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a hole in the side of a boat that allows water to drain from the deck

scupper

verb

English Language Learners Definition of scupper (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something) to stop or fail

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