Word Origin & History
"strip of cloth," 1555, "a band worn across the body or over the shoulders," probably from O.N.Fr. escarpe "sash, sling," which probably is identical with O.Fr. escherpe "pilgrim's purse suspended from the neck," perhaps from Frank. *skirpja, from a Gmc. source (cf. O.N. skreppa "small bag, wallet, satchel"),
or from M.L. scirpa "little bag woven of rushes," from L. scirpus "rush, bulrush," of unknown origin. As a cold-weather covering for the neck, first recorded 1844. Plural form scarfs began to yield to scarves early 18c., on model of half/halves, etc.
"connecting joint," 1276, probably from O.N. skarfr "nail for fastening a joint." A general North Sea Gmc. ship-building word (cf. Du. scherf, Swed. skarf, Norw. skarv), the exact relationship of all these is unclear. Also borrowed into Romanic (cf. Fr. écart, Sp. escarba); perhaps ult. from P.Gmc.
*skerf-, *skarf- (cf. O.E. sceorfan "to gnaw, bite").
"eat hastily," 1960, U.S. teen slang, originally a noun meaning "food, meal" (1932), perhaps imitative, or from scoff (attested in a similar sense from 1846). Or perhaps from a dial. survival of O.E. sceorfan "to gnaw, bite" (see scarf
(2)); a similar word is found in a S.African
context in the 1600s.