16th century, derived from Middle High German schurgen, schürgen (“to shove, push, egg on”), from Old High German scurgen. This verb is related with (but probably not the direct ancestor of) modern schüren (“to stir, stoke up”); compare Old High German fiurscurio (“villain”, literally “he who stokes up fire”). Middle High German schurgen shows Upper German umlaut blocking in -ur- + consonant. This southern origin also partially explains the hardening of -g- to -k-, though the lack of any g-forms in Schurke is peculiar. The noun moreover has little currency in dialects, north or south.