scram

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See also: SCRAM

English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Probably either:

Verb[edit]

scram (third-person singular simple present scrams, present participle scramming, simple past and past participle scrammed)

  1. (intransitive, originally US, often imperative) To leave in a hurry; to go away. [from early 20th c.]
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:go away
    What are you kids doing on my lawn? Scram!

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Uncertain; the verb is possibly derived from etymology 1.[2] It has been suggested that the word is an acronym for phrases like “safety control rod actuator mechanism”, “safety control rod axe man”, and “safety control rods activation mechanism”, but these are most likely backronyms.

The noun is probably derived from the verb.[3]

Verb[edit]

scram (third-person singular simple present scrams, present participle scraming or scramming, simple past and past participle scramed or scrammed) (chiefly nuclear physics)

  1. (transitive) To shut down (a nuclear reactor or, by extension, some other thing) for safety reasons, usually because of an emergency.
    • 1976 December, Randy Warsaw, “Fermi II – A Plant Tour”, in Ray Barry, editor, The Michigan Technic, volume XCV, number 3, [Ann Arbor, Mich.]: College of Engineering, University of Michigan, ISSN 0026-2471, OCLC 17266335, page 15:
      The NCR [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] further demands the plant conform to all the safety requirements put into effect during construction. This means constant re-design. There must also be several ways to scram (emergency shut down) the reactor. Some of these are automatic and some are manual.
    • 1978, “Appendix II—Answers to Written Questions Posed to Nuclear Regulatory Commission before the Hearings”, in Nuclear Regulatory Commission Authorization Requests: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth Congress, Second Session, on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Requests for an Increased Authorization for Fiscal Year 1978 and for a Fiscal Year 1979 Authorization of $330,000,000: [] (Serial No. 95-161), Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, OCLC 880096456, page 794:
      Startup of reactor recirculating pump resulted in flux spike scraming plant.
    • 1983, Michio Kaku and Jennifer Trainer, editors, Nuclear Power, Both Sides: The Best Arguments for and against the Most Controversial Technology, New York, N.Y.: W[illiam] W[arder] Norton, →ISBN, page 22:
      The slightest problem in a reactor will cause the control rods to plunge automatically in the uranium core at high speeds (this is called scramming the reactor) and stop the chain reaction.
    • 2000, Ralph R. Fullwood, “Analyzing Nuclear Reactor Safety Systems”, in Probabilistic Safety Assessment in the Chemical and Nuclear Industries, Boston, Mass.: Butterworth-Heinemann, →ISBN, section 6.1.4.3 (ABB PIUS), page 218:
      Both active and manual methods scram by tripping power to a dedicated pump that unbalances the flows to the[sic] passively scram the reactor.
    • 2007 June 22, Samuel Upton Newtan, “Nuclear Reactor Disasters: Part I: Stationary Reactors (Non-breeders)”, in Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century, Bloomington, Ind.; Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 113:
      The reactor was then "scramed", but the control rods did not slide back into the reactor.
    • 2012 December 12, D. Michael Battey, chapter 35, in Tenacity Gene, Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 174:
      Raising group eight rods and brining a nuclear reactor fully to life for the first time in nearly ten years—everyone was so ready they were all ready to pee in their pants. Andrews did not know he could do it without SCRAMing the reactor—in other words, pushing it into an automatic shutdown that might be too little too late.
  2. (intransitive) Of a nuclear reactor or some other thing: to shut down, usually because of an emergency.
    • 1984, Charles Perrow, “Nuclear Power as a High-risk System”, in Normal Accidents: Living with High-risk Technologies, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, published 1999, →ISBN, page 44:
      This shut off current to the control rod mechanism, and the reactor scrammed (shut off) automatically.
    • 2012, Daniel Yergin, “The Urgency of Fuel Choice”, in The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, revised edition, New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, →ISBN, part 3 (The Electric Age), page 415:
      As soon as the earthquake struck, the reactors "scrammed"—shut down automatically—as they were supposed to.
    • 2016, Nabil Abu el Ata; Rudolf Schmandt, “Understanding the Hidden Risk of Dynamic Complexity”, in The Tyranny of Uncertainty: A New Framework to Predict, Remediate and Monitor Risk, Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer, DOI:10.1007/978-3-662-49104-1, →ISBN, part I (Once upon a Time), page 21:
      Immediately after the earthquake, following government regulations, the remaining reactors, 1–3, automatically SCRAMed; control rods shut down sustained fission reactions.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

scram (plural scrams) (chiefly nuclear physics)

  1. (also attributively) A shutdown of a nuclear reactor (or, by extension, some other thing), often done rapidly due to an emergency.
    • 1960 October 5, John Roberts; S. F. Armour, “Introduction”, in T7 Tanker Locking Piston Control Rod Drive Scram Analysis (GEAP 3561), Oak Ridge, Tenn.: Office of Technical Information, United States Atomic Energy Commission, OCLC 794672341, page 2:
      During scram operation, a scram signal de-energizes the inlet and outlet scram valves. The outlet scram valve vents the volume above the drive piston to a scram dump tank. The inlet scram valve supplies scram pressure obtained from an accumulator to the under side of the vented piston.
    • 1966 fall, staff of First Atomic Ship Transport, Inc., “Operating Experience of the N.S. Savannah in Commercial Service”, in Nuclear Safety: A Quarterly Technical Progress Review, volume 8, number 1, [Oak Ridge, Tenn.]: Division of Technical Information, United States Atomic Energy Commission, ISSN 0029-5604, OCLC 859780278, section VI, page 65:
      Of the 14 scrams experienced, none was caused by operation exceeding the design parameters. Eight scrams occurred with the control rods withdrawn. [...] Six scrams occurred while the rods were inserted. Five were intentional to prevent accidental rod withdrawal, and one was the unintentional result of an instrument adjustment.
    • 1981, Alan E. Waltar; Albert B. Reynolds, “Unprotected Transients”, in Fast Breeder Reactors (Pergamon International Library of Science, Technology, Engineering and Social Studies), New York, N.Y.; Oxford, Oxfordshire: Pergamon Press, →ISBN, section 15-5.D (Loss of Ultimate Heat Sink), page 604:
      By the time scram is completed, coolant temperatures would likely be climbing due to the combination of a large heat capacity within the fuel pins and low coolant flow.
    • 2016, Nabil Abu el Ata; Rudolf Schmandt, “Understanding the Hidden Risk of Dynamic Complexity”, in The Tyranny of Uncertainty: A New Framework to Predict, Remediate and Monitor Risk, Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer, DOI:10.1007/978-3-662-49104-1, →ISBN, part I (Once upon a Time), page 21:
      Although fission stops almost immediately with a SCRAM, fission products in the fuel continue to release decay heat, initially about 6.5% of full reactor power. [...] Corresponding with the SCRAM, emergency generators were automatically activated to power electronics and cooling systems.
    • 2011, Min Lee, “The Past, Present and Future of Nuclear Power in Taiwan”, in Xu Yi-chong, editor, Nuclear Energy Development in Asia: Problems and Prospects, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, DOI:10.1057/9780230306332, →ISBN, page 171:
      Other indicators can be used to measure the performance of an NPP [nuclear power plant] including the number of scrams (emergency shutdowns of a nuclear reactor), the collective dose (a measure of the total amount of effective dose multiplied by the size of the exposed population), the amount of low-level waste generated, and the fuel reliability. The number of scrams dropped from the peak of 30 in 1984 to only one in 2004 and 2–3 in the last two years.
  2. The device used to shut down a nuclear reactor; also, the button or switch used to initiate a shutdown.
    • 1963 June, Kenneth Calkins, “Linac and Dynamitron”, in Boeing Magazine, volume XXXIII, number 6, Seattle, Wash.: Public Relations Division, Boeing Airplane Company, OCLC 1052694660, page 6, column 2:
      Each room housing a radiation source has a red-buttoned "scram" switch on the wall. One touch of the switch and all equipment stops abruptly.
    • 1993, Tom Clancy, Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit[3], New York, N.Y.: Berkley Books, published November 1996, →ISBN:
      She watched as the Marine technical team leader pressed the red SCRAM buttons for each reactor, setting off a chorus of alarms.
    • 1998, Vladimir M. Munipov, “Ergonomics [Disregarding Ergonomic Design Principles: Chernobyl]”, in Jeanne Mager Stellman, editor, Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, volume I, 4th edition, Geneva: International Labour Office, →ISBN, page 29-96:
      In particular, measures have been taken to make the scram system more fast-operating and to exclude any possibility of its being deliberately shut off by the personnel.
    • 2004, Dieter Berg, “Radionuclides Released into the Environment”, in Richard Tykva and Dieter Berg, editors, Man-made and Natural Radioactivity in Environmental Pollution and Radiochronology (Environmental Pollution), Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, DOI:10.1007/978-94-017-0496-0, →ISBN, page 119:
      Today it is considered to be true that the accident paradoxically was ultimately caused by the emergency shut down of the reactor. By sending in the practically completely withdrawn scram and control rods, the reactivity of the reactor by the faulty conception of the rods was for a short time not lowered, but augmented.
Alternative forms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

The verb is a variant of dialectal English scramb (to pull or rake together with the hands; to gather a handful of something from the ground; to scratch with the claws or nails; to pull down violently; to tear off; to maul about; a handful of something from the ground), possibly related to Dutch schrammen (to graze, scratch)[4] and German schrammen (to scratch, scrape); see etymology 1.

The noun is derived from the verb.

Verb[edit]

scram (third-person singular simple present scrams, present participle scramming, simple past and past participle scrammed)

  1. (transitive, Derbyshire, Wales) To scratch (something) with claws or fingernails; to claw.
    • [1996–2020, Ted Duckworth, “scram”, in A Dictionary of Slang[4], archived from the original on 30 August 2013:
      scram [...] Verb. [...] 2. To scratch, with claws or fingernails. E.g. "It's my own fault the cat scrammed me, I was teasing it." [South Wales use]]
    • 2013 December 19, Abby Bolter, “Firefighters Rescue Woman Trapped in Bridgend Flat following an Alleged Arson Attack”, in WalesOnline[5], archived from the original on 24 December 2013:
      A woman has praised firefighters and her cat for saving her life following an alleged arson attack. Two-and-a-half-year-old tortoiseshell Taffy repeatedly bit owner Tracie Horgan-Hodgkiss on the hand until she woke up when her flat filled with acrid smoke in the early hours of this morning. [...] "I’d like to say thank you very much to the firefighters for coming to rescue me. And I am sorry that Taffy scrammed one of them!"
      (Also reported as “Cat wakes woman as flat fills with smoke”", The Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2013, page 17.)
  2. (transitive, US, mining, archaic) To mine for ore on a small scale, especially from mines previously been worked on where most of the ore is believed to have been removed.
    • 1880, “Marquette Iron District”, in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Mineral Statistics of the State of Michigan, for 1879, Lansing, Mich.: W. S. George & Co., [], OCLC 7854637, page 167:
      Just west of this pit is another one, which has been nearly worked out; but three men are scramming about five tons per day in it.
    • 1882, A. P. Swineford, “The Cyclops Mine”, in Annual Review of the Iron Mining and Other Industries of the Upper Peninsula for the Year Ending Dec. 31, 1881, [Marquette, Mich.]: Mining Journal, OCLC 18002409, page 141:
      Recently, Capt. Oliver, [...] set a couple of experienced miners to work scramming in this underground pit, when it was soon discovered that what the former mining captain had conceived to be a regular foot-wall, was, in fact, a thin shale of rock, which hid from view what now appears to be a very large body of clean blue ore.
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

scram (plural scrams)

  1. (Derbyshire, Wales) A scratch, especially caused by claws or fingernails.
    • [1996–2020, Ted Duckworth, “scram”, in A Dictionary of Slang[6], archived from the original on 30 August 2013:
      scram [...] Noun. [...] 2. A scratch. [South Wales use]]
  2. (US, mining, archaic) A mine previously worked on where most of the ore is believed to have been removed, but which is still being mined on a small scale.
    • 1887, Cha[rle]s D. Lawton, “The Jackson Iron Co.”; “The Cleveland Mining Co.”, in Mines and Mineral Statistics, Lansing, Mich.: Thorp & Godfrey, [], OCLC 1109248127, pages 64 and 67:
      [page 64] Many of these old openings still afford places where ore is mined. A man can start in almost anywhere and fine ore. There is a great deal of this "scramming" done at the Jackson. Quite a proportion of the annual product comes in this way. Not unfrequently one of these "scrams" leads to the finding of a large deposit of ore. [...] [page 67] South from the east part of the Incline pit they have a scram of good ore which furnished a small product.
    • 1891, N[ewton] H[orace] Winchell; H[orace] V[aughn] Winchell, “The Chandler Mine”, in The Iron Ores of Minnesota, [] (Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota Bulletin; no. 6), Minneapolis, Minn.: Harrison & Smith, [], OCLC 487100576, part II (Methods of Exploration and Mining, and Descriptions of the Various Mines), page 196:
      There are numbered workings running to about 20, representing small pits and scrams, sometimes worked by contract by "scrammers."
Translations[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

Origin unknown.[5]

Verb[edit]

scram (third-person singular simple present scrams, present participle scramming, simple past and past participle scrammed) (intransitive, Britain, dialectal, archaic)

  1. Of one's body or limbs: to become numb or stiff due to cold, lack of movement, etc.
  2. To be weakened by an accident, a disease, starvation, etc.
    • [1867], chapter I, in How Mary Edmonds Did What She Could; and What Came of it after Many Days, London: The Religious Tract Society, [], OCLC 559519995, pages 14–15:
      "But they will be scrammed!* the children will be scrammed, Mary, before morning," cried Jim, scratching his head with perplexity and distress at the very thought of two young creatures sleeping on the bare boards, in a cold garret with only a shawl to cover them. [Footnote *: Starved.]

References[edit]

  1. ^ scram, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1982; compare “scram, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ scram, v.3”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1982; “scram, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ scram, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1982; “scram, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  4. ^ “SCRAMB, v. and sb.” in Joseph Wright, editor, The English Dialect Dictionary: [], volume V (R–S), London: Published by Henry Frowde, [], publisher to the English Dialect Society, []; New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905, →OCLC, page 269: “To scratch with the nails or claws.”
  5. ^ Compare “SCRAM, v.3” in Joseph Wright, editor, The English Dialect Dictionary: [], volume V (R–S), London: Published by Henry Frowde, [], publisher to the English Dialect Society, []; New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905, →OCLC, page 269, column 1.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]