Word of the Day : July 8, 2012


verb SKUP-er


: British : to defeat or put an end to : do in

Did You Know?

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.


The latest information could scupper the peace talks."Greece faces weeks of political turmoil that could scupper its financial bailout after voters angry at crippling income cuts punished mainstream politicians, let a far-right extremist group into Parliament and gave no party enough votes to govern alone." - From an article in Associated Press Online, May 7, 2012

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