From scare + crow. Replaced original shewel from Middle English sheweles, from an unattested Old English form composed of scȳn + -els (Old English scīewels). Compare Middle Low German schūwelse and Middle High German schiusel. See further at shy.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈskɛəkɹəʊ/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈskɛəɹ.kɹoʊ/
- Hyphenation: scare‧crow
scarecrow (plural scarecrows)
- An effigy, typically made of straw and dressed in old clothes, fixed to a pole in a field to deter birds from eating seeds or crops planted there. [from 1530s]
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:scarecrow
- (figuratively, derogatory) A tall, thin, awkward person.
- 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume I, London: A[ndrew] Millar […], OCLC 928184292, book I, pages 21–22:
- A Conſultation was now entered into, how to proceed in order to diſcover the Mother. A Scrutiny was firſt made into the Characters of the female Servants of the Houſe, who were all acquitted by Mrs. Wilkins, and with apparent Merit; for ſhe had collected them herſelf, and perhaps it would be difficult to find ſuch another Set of Scarecrows.
- (figuratively) Anything that appears terrifying but presents no danger.
- a. 1701, John Dryden, “Daphnis. From the Twenty-seventh Idyllium of Theocritus.”, in The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, […], volume II, London: […] J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, […], published 1760, OCLC 863244003, page 422:
- A ſcarecrow, ſet to frighten fools away; / Marriage has joys; and you ſhall have aſſay.
- 1983, Saskatchewan Law Review (volume 48, page 114)
- The Canada West Foundation dismisses these concerns as "political scarecrows"; fearsome at first glance but irrelevant on closer examination. Unfortunately the problems of an elected Senate cannot be dismissed so easily.
- A person clad in rags and tatters.
- (Britain, dialectal) A bird, the black tern.
- skarcrow (obsolete)
- (transitive) To splay rigidly outward, like the arms of a scarecrow.
- 2006, Ron S. King, Nowhere Street, page 109:
- […] his small frame seeming scarecrowed in the over-large black coat.
- 2010, Robert N. Chan, The Bad Samaritan:
- An arctic wind whooshes down Columbus Avenue like the IRT express, catching her bags, scarecrowing her arms, and threatening to take her broad-brimmed hat downtown.