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[skam] /skæm/
a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
verb (used with object), scammed, scamming.
to cheat or defraud with a scam.
Origin of scam
1960-65; orig. carnival argot; of obscure origin
Related forms
scammer, noun
Can be confused
scam, scan. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for scam


a stratagem for gain; a swindle
verb scams, scamming, scammed
(transitive) to swindle (someone) by means of a trick
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 scam

1963, noun and verb, U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for scam



  1. (also scambo) A swindle; confidence game; fraud; con: It was a full scam/ Looking for a good scambo for April Fool's Day (1963+)
  2. The information; the LOW-DOWN, the SCOOP: Here's the scam. We're holing in for the night (1964+)


  1. (also scam on): You guys are scamming me
  2. To fool around and waste time: scamming in the back room

Related Terms

what's the scam

[origin unknown; perhaps related to early 1800s British scamp, ''cheater, swindler'']

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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