AskDefine | Define scarper

Dictionary Definition

scarper v : flee; take to one's heels; cut and run; "If you see this man, run!"; "The burglars escaped before the police showed up" [syn: run, turn tail, lam, run away, hightail it, bunk, head for the hills, take to the woods, escape, fly the coop, break away]

User Contributed Dictionary



In Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (vol 3 1851) there is a chapter on "Punch Talk" (basically the slang language used by travelling Italian Punch and Judy men and entertainers). This slang contains English, Italian, Jewish and traveller roots. In Punch Talk, "To get away quickly" (e.g., from the police or authority) is spoken and written as "scarper". This comes from the Italian scappare, escappare (compare English escape).
An alternative etymology traces the word "scarper" to the Cockney rhyming slang Scapa flow, that is, go (as in, e.g., "go away").



  1. (British slang) To run away; to flee; to escape.


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