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- In the chapter "Punch Talk" of 1851, Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, Vol 3, the author discusses the slang language used by travelling Italian Punch and Judy men and entertainers, which had English, Italian, Jewish and traveller roots. He states that "scarper" is Punch Talk for "to get away quickly" (from the police or other authority) and derives from the Italian scappare or escappare (compare English escape).
- An alternative etymology traces the word "scarper" to the Cockney rhyming slang Scapa Flow (“go”) (as in, e.g., "go away").
- (Britain, slang) To run away; to flee; to escape.
- 1904, John Coleman, Fifty years of an actors̓ life, volume 1, page 54:
- Out went the lights, as he continued, "That sneak Whiskers have just blown the gaff to old Slow-Coach, and he'll be here in two two's to give you beans — so scarper, laddies — scarper!"
- 2001, Ardal O'Hanlon, Knick Knack Paddy Whack, page 7:
- The tramps scarpered, the street-traders pushing prams scarpered, half of Dublin scarpered as if they all had something to hide.
to run away; to flee; to escape