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scrimshaw

[skrim-shaw]
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noun
  1. a carved or engraved article, especially of whale ivory, whalebone, walrus tusks, or the like, made by whalers as a leisure occupation.
  2. such articles or work collectively.
  3. the art or technique of carving or engraving whale ivory, whalebone, walrus tusks, etc.
verb (used without object)
  1. to produce scrimshaw.
verb (used with object)
  1. to carve or engrave (whale ivory or whalebone) into scrimshaw.

Origin of scrimshaw

First recorded in 1860–65; of obscure origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scrimshaw

scrimshaw

noun
  1. the art of decorating or carving shells, ivory, etc, done by sailors as a leisure activity
    1. an article made in this manner
    2. such articles collectively
verb
  1. to produce scrimshaw (from)

Word Origin

C19: origin uncertain, perhaps after a surname
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 scrimshaw

n.

1864, "A nautical word of unstable orthography" [Century Dictionary], back-formation from scrimshander ("Moby Dick," 1851), scrimshonting (1825), American English, of unknown origin. Scrimshaw is an English surname, attested from mid-12c., from Old French escremisseor "fencing-master."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper