from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb UK, slang To run away; to flee; to escape.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb flee; take to one's heels; cut and run


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably from Italian scappare ("to run away"), influenced by Cockney rhyming slang Scapa Flow = go.


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  • From:

    Meaning: Depart hastily.

    Origin: From the Italian 'scappare' - to escape.

    This has been in use since the 17th century. Swell's Night Guide, 1846 includes the quotation:

    "He must hook it before 'day-light does appear', and then scarper by the back door."

    September 15, 2007

  • I'm wondering whether this word (and the Italian verb) is related to the Italian word for "shoe": scarpa. Will have to check....

    September 15, 2007

  • I thought this might be related to scamper, but the etymologies are quite different.

    September 18, 2007

  • Huh. I thought it was a recent Britlish invention.

    *cue "The More You Know"*

    October 4, 2007

  • "... an undeniably shabby Pool of London cab drawn up outside, with an equally shabby figure standing by it, slowly sorting English from Irish, Spanish and Moorish coins to pay the deeply suspicious driver, who had got down from his seat ... to make sure that his rum cove of a fare did not scarper."

    --Patrick O'Brian, Blue at the Mizzen, 55

    March 27, 2008

  • It's related to the Italian verb scappare, which means to run, escape etc. It entered the English language around the time of the 1st world war. Extended contact between English and Italian soldiers perhaps?

    July 17, 2009

  • Is it possible this usage derives from "scarp", meaning "the inside of a ditch used as fortification"? I mean, if someone ran away from a scarp, that would be to truly scarper!

    June 25, 2019