Word of the Day : December 21, 2013


noun SKAHFF-law


: a contemptuous law violator

Did You Know?

In 1924, a wealthy Massachusetts Prohibitionist named Delcevare King sponsored a contest in which he asked participants to coin an appropriate word to mean "a lawless drinker." King sought a word that would cast violators of Prohibition laws in a light of shame. Two respondents came up independently with the winning word: "scofflaw," formed by combining the verb "scoff" and the noun "law." Henry Dale and Kate Butler, also of Massachusetts, split King's $200 prize. Improbably, despite some early scoffing from language critics, "scofflaw" managed to pick up steam in English and expand to a meaning that went beyond its Prohibition roots, referring to one who violates any law, not just laws related to drinking.


The governor's office set up a database listing the names of scofflaws who hadn't paid their traffic fines.

"For the reality of professional cycling in the [Lance] Armstrong years was that just about everyone was a scofflaws, that what Armstrong did was not an attempt to beat the system but rather a willingness to play by the system's demands." - From a film review by Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2013

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "trumpery," our Word of the Day from November 21? The answer is …


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