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scarecrow

[skair-kroh] /ˈskɛərˌkroʊ/
noun
1.
an object, usually a figure of a person in old clothes, set up to frighten crows or other birds away from crops.
2.
anything frightening but not really dangerous.
3.
a person in ragged clothes.
4.
an extremely thin person.
Origin of scarecrow
1545-1555
1545-55; scare + crow1
Related forms
scarecrowish, scarecrowy, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scarecrow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Ah; that proves you have a Kind Heart," remarked the scarecrow, approvingly.

    The Tin Woodman of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • “I would not be seen in the street with that scarecrow,” murmured Giles.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Then he extended them as far as he could reach toward our travelers and found he could almost touch the scarecrow—but not quite.

    The Patchwork Girl of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • It was a miserable-looking woman in clothes that might have been stolen from a scarecrow.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • But at last it was ready and packed into an old hat box belonging to Mops, the scarecrow's cook.

    The Royal Book of Oz L. Frank Baum
British Dictionary definitions for scarecrow

scarecrow

/ˈskɛəˌkrəʊ/
noun
1.
an object, usually in the shape of a man, made out of sticks and old clothes to scare birds away from crops
2.
a person or thing that appears frightening but is not actually harmful
3.
(informal)
  1. an untidy-looking person
  2. a very thin person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scarecrow
n.

1550s, from scare (v.) + crow (n.). Earliest reference is to a person employed to scare birds. Meaning "device of straw and cloth in grotesque resemblance of a man, set up in a grain field or garden to frighten crows," is implied by 1580s; hence "gaunt, ridiculous person" (1590s). The older name for such a thing was shewel. Shoy-hoy apparently is another old word for a straw-stuffed scarecrow (Cobbett began using it as a political insult in 1819 and others picked it up; OED defines it as "one who scares away birds from a sown field," and says it is imitative of their cry).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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