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  1. an act or instance of reconnoitering; reconnaissance.
  2. the activities of a scout or scouts.
  3. (often initial capital letter) the program of activities of the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts.

Origin of scouting

First recorded in 1635–45; scout1 + -ing1
Related formsscout·ing·ly, adverb


  1. a soldier, warship, airplane, etc., employed in reconnoitering.
  2. a person sent out to obtain information.
  3. Sports.
    1. a person who observes and reports on the techniques, players, etc., of opposing teams.
    2. a person sent out by a team to observe and recommend new talent for recruitment.
  4. a talent scout, as in the entertainment field.
  5. an act or instance of reconnoitering, inspecting, observing, etc.
  6. (sometimes initial capital letter) a Boy Scout or Girl Scout.
  7. Informal. a person: He's a good scout.
  8. a man acting as servant to a student at Oxford University.
verb (used without object)
  1. to act as a scout; reconnoiter.
  2. to make a search; hunt.
  3. to work as a talent scout.
verb (used with object)
  1. to examine, inspect, or observe for the purpose of obtaining information; reconnoiter: to scout the enemy's defenses.
  2. to seek; search for (usually followed by out or up): to scout up a date for Friday night.
  3. to find by seeking, searching, or looking (usually followed by out or up): Scout out a good book for me to read.

Origin of scout1

1300–50; (v.) Middle English skowten < Old French escouter, escolter, ascolter (French écouter to listen) < Late Latin ascultāre, Latin auscultāre to listen; see auscultate; (noun) < Middle French escoute, derivative of escouter


verb (used with object)
  1. to treat with scorn; dismiss.
  2. to make fun of; deride; mock.
verb (used without object)
  1. to scoff; jeer.

Origin of scout2

1595–1605; perhaps < Old Norse skūta, skūt abuse, angry words. See shout
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scouting


    1. the activities, programmes, principles, etc, of the Scout Association
    2. (as modifier)the international Scouting movement


  1. (sometimes not capital) a boy or (in some countries) a girl who is a member of a worldwide movement (the Scout Association) founded as the Boy Scouts in England in 1908 by Lord Baden-Powell with the aim of developing character and responsibilitySee also Air Scout, Girl Scout, Guide, Sea Scout, Venture Scout


  1. a person, ship, or aircraft sent out to gain information
  2. military a person or unit despatched to reconnoitre the position of the enemy
  3. sport a person employed by a club to seek new players
  4. the act or an instance of scouting
  5. (esp at Oxford University) a college servantCompare gyp 3
  6. obsolete (in Britain) a patrolman of a motoring organization
  7. informal a fellow or companion
  1. to examine or observe (anything) in order to obtain information
  2. (tr; sometimes foll by out or up) to seek
  3. (intr) to act as a scout for a sports club
  4. (intr; foll by about or around) to go in search (for)
Derived Formsscouter, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French ascouter to listen to, from Latin auscultāre to auscultate


  1. archaic to reject (a person or thing) with contempt

Word Origin

C17: from Old Norse skūta derision
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

Word Origin and History for scouting


1640s, verbal noun from scout (v.1). Boy Scout sense from 1908.



late 14c., "observe or explore as a scout, travel in search of information," from Old French escouter "to listen, heed" (Modern French écouter), from Latin auscultare "to listen to, give heed to" (see auscultate). Related: Scouted; scouting.



"to reject with scorn," 1710, earlier "to mock" (c.1600), of Scandinavian origin (cf. Old Norse skuta, skute "to taunt"), probably from a source related to shout (v.). Related: Scouted; scouting; scoutingly.



"person who scouts, one sent out to gain information," 1550s, from scout (v.1). Boy Scout is from 1908. Scout's honor attested from 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with scouting


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.