scathing as some of the portraits are, the writer is by no means merely cynical.
scathing comments by Franklin on Thomas Penn's meanness, 138.
scathing sentences already took shape in his brain, but deeper investigation would be necessary before he could write anything.
scathing letters are all right, but they should be directed and stamped, then burned just before they are trusted to the mails.
1794 in literal sense, present participle adjective from scathe (v.). Of words, speech, etc., from 1852. Related: Scathingly.
c.1200, from Old Norse skaða "to hurt, harm, damage, injure," from Proto-Germanic *skath- (cf. Old English sceaþian "to hurt, injure," Old Saxon skathon, Old Frisian skethia, Middle Dutch scaden, Dutch schaden, Old High German scadon, German schaden, Gothic scaþjan "to injure, damage"), from PIE root *sket- "to injure." Only cognate outside Germanic seems to be in Greek a-skethes "unharmed, unscathed."
It survives mostly in its negative form, unscathed, and in figurative meaning "sear with invective or satire" (1852, usually as scathing) which developed from the sense of "scar, scorch" used by Milton in "Paradise Lost" i.613 (1667).