"to acquire by irregular means," 1915, alteration of dialectal scrunge "to search stealthily, rummage, pilfer" (1909), of uncertain origin, perhaps from dial. scringe "to pry about." Popularized by the military in World War I. Perhaps related to scrouge, scrooge "push, jostle" (1755, Cockney slang for "a crowd"), probably suggestive of screw, squeeze.
(also scrounge up) To acquire by such dubious ways as habitual borrowing, begging, foraging, scavenging, pilfering, etc; cadge, mooch • Popularized by military use during World War I: eating what little he could scrounge
(also scrounge up) To seek and collect; scrape up: Let's see what we can scrounge up for supper
[1909+; probably fr British dialect scrunge, ''squeeze,'' hence ''steal,'' semantically parallel with pinch]
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source