c.1200, aphetic of O.Fr. escarn "mockery, derision, contempt," a common Romanic word (cf. Sp. escarnio, It. scherno) of Gmc. origin, from P.Gmc. *skarnjan "mock, deride" (cf. O.H.G. skern "mockery, jest, sport," M.H.G. scherzen "to jump with joy"). Probably influenced by O.Fr. escorne "affront, disgrace," which is a back-formation from escorner, lit. "to break off (someone's) horns," from V.L. *excornare (source of It. scornare "treat with contempt"), from L. ex- "without" + cornu "horn." The verb also is attested from c.1200.