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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
1545-1555
1545-55; scare + crow1
Related forms
scarecrowish, scarecrowy, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for scarecrowish

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
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Word Origin and History for scarecrowish

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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Encyclopedia Article for scarecrowish

scarecrow

device posted on cultivated ground to deter birds or other animals from eating or otherwise disturbing seeds, shoots, and fruit; its name derives from its use against the crow. The scarecrow of popular tradition is a mannequin stuffed with straw; free-hanging, often reflective parts movable by the wind are commonly attached to increase effectiveness. A scarecrow outfitted in clothes previously worn by a hunter who has fired on the flock is regarded by some as especially efficacious. A common variant is the effigy of a predator (e.g., an owl or a snake).

Learn more about scarecrow with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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