Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"to acquire by irregular means," 1915, alteration of dialectal scrunge "to search stealthily, rummage, pilfer" (1909), of uncertain origin, perhaps from dialectal scringe "to pry about;" or perhaps related to scrouge, scrooge "push, jostle" (1755, also Cockney slang for "a crowd"), probably suggestive of screw, squeeze. Popularized by the military in World War I. Related: Scrounged; scrounging.
[1909+; probably fr British dialect scrunge, ''squeeze,'' hence ''steal,'' semantically parallel with pinch]