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Uncertain. Likely from hare (harass, harry) 'em (them) and scare 'em (frighten them);[1][2] alternately the first element may be from hare (rabbit-like animals),[3] or the second element may be a variant of stare.[4] Attested from the late 17th century.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌhɛəɹəmˈskɛəɹəm/


harum-scarum (not comparable)

  1. wild, careless, irresponsible
    • 1832, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Eugene Aram
      Lester's good heart will be to hear that little Peter is so improved;--no longer a dissolute, harum-scarum fellow, throwing away his money, and always in debt.



harum-scarum (not comparable)

  1. wildly, carelessly, irresponsibly
    • 1800, Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent
      [] for he never looked after anything at all, but harum-scarum called for everything as if we were conjurors, or he in a public-house.


harum-scarum (plural harum-scarums)

  1. A giddy, rash person.


  1. ^ harum-scarum” in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.
  2. ^ harum-scarum” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th edition, Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, →ISBN.
  3. ^ harum-scarum, adv., adj., n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  4. ^ harum-scarum” in the Collins English Dictionary