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A scab (sense 1)


From Middle English scabb, scabbe (also as shabbe, schabbe > English shab), from Old English sċeabb and Old Norse skabb, both from Proto-Germanic *skabbaz (scab, scabies), from Proto-Indo-European *skabʰ- (to cut, split, carve, shape). Doublet of shab. Cognate with German Schabe (scabies), Danish skab (scab, scabies), Swedish skabb (scab, scabies), Latin scabies (scab, itch, mange). Related also to Old English scafan (to scrape, shave), Latin scabere (to scratch), English shabby.


  • IPA(key): /skæb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æb


scab (countable and uncountable, plural scabs)

  1. An incrustation over a sore, wound, vesicle, or pustule, formed during healing.
  2. (colloquial or obsolete) The scabies.
  3. The mange, especially when it appears on sheep.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 4, page 306:
      Scab was the terror of the sheep farmer, and the peril of his calling.
  4. (uncountable) Any of several different diseases of potatoes producing pits and other damage on their surface, caused by streptomyces bacteria (but formerly believed to be caused by a fungus).
    Coordinate term: blight
  5. Common scab, a relatively harmless variety of scab (potato disease) caused by Streptomyces scabies.
  6. (phytopathology) Any one of various more or less destructive fungal diseases that attack cultivated plants, forming dark-colored crustlike spots.
  7. (founding) A slight irregular protuberance which defaces the surface of a casting, caused by the breaking away of a part of the mold.
    Coordinate term: (material left around the edge of a moulded part) flash
  8. A mean, dirty, paltry fellow.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:villain
  9. (derogatory, slang) A worker who acts against trade union policies; any picket crosser (strikebreaker), and especially one with devotion to union busting.
    • c. 1910s, London, Jack (attributed), The Scab:
      When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.
    Synonyms: blackleg, knobstick, scalie

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


scab (third-person singular simple present scabs, present participle scabbing, simple past and past participle scabbed)

  1. (intransitive) To become covered by a scab or scabs.
  2. (intransitive) To form into scabs and be shed, as damaged or diseased skin.
    • 1734, Royal Society of London, The Philosophical Transactions (1719 - 1733) Abridged, Volume 7, page 631,
      Thoſe Puſtules aroſe, maturated, and ſcabbed off, intirely like the true Pox.
    • 2009, Linda Wisdom, Wicked By Any Other Name, page 233:
      Trev walked over and leaned down, dropping a tender kiss on her forehead where the skin was raw and scabbing from the cut.
    • 2009, Nancy Lord, Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life, page 121:
      The bark that wasn′t already scabbed off was peppered with beetle holes.
  3. (transitive) To remove part of a surface (from).
    • 1891, Canadian Senate, Select Committee on Railways, Telegraphs and Harbours: Proceedings and Evidence, page 265:
      The beds shall be scabbed off to give a solid bearing, no pinning shall be admitted between the backing and the face stones and there shall be a good square joint not exceeding one inch in width, and the face stone shall be scabbed off to allow this.
  4. (intransitive) To act as a strikebreaker.
    • 1931, “Which Side Are You On?”, performed by Florence Patton Reece:
      Don't scab for the bosses / Don't listen to their lies / Us poor folks haven't got a chance / Unless we organize.
    • 1903 April 5, London, Jack, The Scab:
      Nobody desires to scab, to give most for least. The ambition of every individual is quite the opposite, to give least for most; and, as a result, living in a tooth-and-nail society, battle royal is waged by the ambitious individuals.
  5. (transitive, UK, Australia, New Zealand, informal) To beg (for), to cadge or bum.
    I scabbed some money off a friend.
    • 2004, Niven Govinden, We are the New Romantics, Bloomsbury Publishing, UK, page 143,
      Finding a spot in a covered seating area that was more bus shelter than tourist-friendly, I unravelled a mother of a joint I′d scabbed off the garçon.
    • 2006, Linda Jaivin, The Infernal Optimist, 2010, HarperCollins Australia, unnumbered page,
      I′d already used up me mobile credit. I was using a normal phone card, what I got from Hamid, what got it from a church lady what helped the refugees. I didn′t like scabbing from the asylums, but they did get a lotta phone cards.
    • 2010, Fiona Wood, Six Impossible Things, page 113:
      I′ve told Fred we can see a movie this weekend, but that just seems like a money-wasting activity. And I can′t keep scabbing off my best friend.