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  • IPA(key): /skæmp/, /skamp/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æmp

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle Dutch schampen (slip away), from Old French escamper (to run away, to make one's escape), from Vulgar Latin *excampare (decamp), from Latin ex campo.


scamp (plural scamps)

  1. A rascal, swindler, or rogue; a ne'er-do-well.
    Synonyms: swindler, rogue; see also Thesaurus:troublemaker
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 77:
      "He is a scamp, he is and it isn't difficult to find his tracks and signs of his reckless shooting, for he can never wait, like other folks, till the birds have had a good start at their play."
  2. A mischievous person, especially a playful, impish youngster.
    My nephew is a little scamp who likes to leave lighted firecrackers under the lawnchairs of his dozing elders.
    While walking home from the bar, he was set upon by a bunch of scamps who stole his hat.
    • April 5 2022, Tina Brown, “How Princess Diana’s Dance With the Media Impacted William and Harry”, in Vanity Fair[1]:
      Prince Harry idolized Diana more and understood her less. He would always be her baby, a scamp who was “thick” at his lessons and “naughty, just like me.” His emotions, like hers, were always simmering near the surface.
      adapted from the book The Palace Papers, published 2022 by Penguin Books

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps related to sense 1, but influenced by the later attested skimp; however, compare Icelandic skamta (to dole out, to stint), which is related to skammur (short).


scamp (third-person singular simple present scamps, present participle scamping, simple past and past participle scamped)

  1. (dated) To skimp; to do something in a skimpy or slipshod fashion.
    • 1884, Samuel Smiles, Men of Invention and Industry
      His work was always first-rate. There was no scamping about it. Everything that he did was thoroughly good and honest.
    • 1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 3, in Well Tackled![2]:
      “They know our boats will stand up to their work,” said Willison, “and that counts for a good deal. A low estimate from us doesn't mean scamped work, but just for that we want to keep the yard busy over a slack time.”

Etymology 3[edit]


scamp (plural scamps)

  1. (advertising) A preliminary design sketch.
    • 2007, Adrian Mackay, Practice of Advertising (page 124)
      It did not matter that the scamp (simple illustrative line-drawing) it contained could have been done in the pub the night before.
    • 2009, FCS: Advertising & Promotions L4 (page 25)
      From the scamps, the creative idea can be developed more fully into a proposal for an actual ad. This needs to be clear enough to present to the client.