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[skab] /skæb/
the incrustation that forms over a sore or wound during healing.
Veterinary Pathology. a mangy disease in animals, especially sheep; scabies.
Compare itch (def 10).
Plant Pathology.
  1. a disease of plants characterized by crustlike lesions on the affected parts and caused by a fungus or bacterium.
  2. one of these crustlike lesions.
a worker who refuses to join a labor union or to participate in a union strike, who takes a striking worker's place on the job, or the like.
Slang. a rascal or scoundrel.
  1. a projection or roughness on an ingot or casting from a defective mold.
  2. a surface defect on an iron or steel piece resulting from the rolling in of scale.
Carpentry. a short, flat piece of wood used for various purposes, as binding two timbers butted together or strengthening a timber at a weak spot.
verb (used without object), scabbed, scabbing.
to become covered with a scab.
to act or work as a scab.
Origin of scab
1200-50; 1800-10 for def 4; Middle English < Old Norse skabb scab, itch; cf. shabby, shave
Related forms
scablike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for scab
Historical Examples
  • Remembering the gang at Simpson's, I felt rather a scab, but a glance in the mirror of the dressing-room reassured me.

    Nights in London Thomas Burke
  • In his heart of hearts, he sympathised with the strikers and hated this "scab."

    Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
  • It was like picking at a scab, making it bleed over and over again, so that the wound never healed.

    Shaman Robert Shea
  • Threats against "scabs" were shouted out, the word "scab" arose on every side.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • About the tenth day of the eruption this yellowish matter exudes, forming the scar or scab which later dries up and falls off.

    Rural Hygiene Henry N. Ogden
  • When the scab was all off, the nose was found to be quite uninjured.

    The Civilization Of China Herbert A. Giles
  • These sheep were destroyed by order on account of scab breaking out among them.

  • "You'll never get it finished with scab labor, Mr. Tyler," says Hartley.

    Torchy As A Pa Sewell Ford
  • Disputandi pruritus ecclesiarum scabies—The itch for controversy is the scab of the Church.

  • The feeling was like a scab Simon knew he should not pick but could not let alone.

British Dictionary definitions for scab


the dried crusty surface of a healing skin wound or sore
a contagious disease of sheep, a form of mange, caused by a mite (Psoroptes communis)
a fungal disease of plants characterized by crusty spots on the fruits, leaves, etc
  1. Also called blackleg. a person who refuses to support a trade union's actions, esp one who replaces a worker who is on strike
  2. (as modifier): scab labour
a despicable person
verb (intransitive) scabs, scabbing, scabbed
to become covered with a scab
(of a road surface) to become loose so that potholes develop
to replace a striking worker
Derived Forms
scablike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sceabb; related to Old Norse skabb, Latin scabiēs, Middle Low German schabbe scoundrel, German schäbigshabby
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scab

mid-13c., "skin disease," developed from Old English sceabb "scab, itch" (related to scafan "to shave, scrape, scratch") and from Old Norse skabb "scab, itch," both from Proto-Germanic *skab- "scratch, shave," from PIE *(s)kep- "to cut, scrape, hack" (see scabies). Sense reinforced by cognate Latin scabies "scab, itch, mange" (from scabere "to scratch").

Meaning "crust which forms over a wound or sore" is first attested c.1400. Meaning "strikebreaker" first recorded 1806, from earlier sense of "person who refuses to join a trade union" (1777), probably from meaning "despicable person" (1580s), possibly borrowed in this sense from Middle Dutch.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scab in Medicine

scab (skāb)

  1. A crust formed from and covering a healing wound.

  2. Scabies or mange in domestic animals or livestock, especially sheep.

v. scabbed, scab·bing, scabs
To become covered with scabs or a scab.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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scab in Science
A crust that forms over a healing wound, consisting of dried blood, plasma, and other secretions.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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scab in Culture

scab definition

Informally, a worker who stays on the job while others go on strike. Also, a worker brought in to keep a plant operating when its work force is on strike. (See strikebreaker.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for scab



A nonunion worker, esp one who attempts to break a strike; fink (1777+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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