Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Rapscallion

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is rapscallion. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

The word rapscallion refers to someone who causes trouble, often in a mischievous way. It is a synonym of rascal and ne’er-do-well.

// With his shaggy, perpetually unkempt hair and his charmingly crooked smile, the actor seems to have been born to play scamps and rapscallions.


Schmigadoon manages to collect practically every genre trope and cliche as well as outmoded cultural lens—from the small town rapscallion who can’t be tamed to the pure disbelief that meets the idea of a woman doctor—to lampoon in pitch perfect musical fun.” — Brandon Katz, Observer, 6 July 2021

Did You Know?

The word rascal has been part of English since the 15th century, but it apparently failed to fully capture the disagreeable nature of the wily knaves of yore: by the 16th century, English speakers had expanded rascal to rascallion. But it seems that even that term didn’t sound quite mischievous enough. Eventually, rascallion was further altered, resulting in the snappier, plosive-enhanced rapscallion, which is still commonly used as a synonym for varletscoundrel, and rogue. And although rapscallion has zero connection with scallion, it does add a figuratively spicy kick to one’s speech, not unlike chawbacon and other cheeky insults that may be of interest and use.

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