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harum-scarum

[hair-uh m-skair-uh m, har-uh m-skar-uh m]
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adjective
  1. reckless; rash; irresponsible: He had a harum-scarum youth.
  2. disorganized; uncontrolled.
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adverb
  1. recklessly; wildly: He ran harum-scarum all over the place.
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noun
  1. a reckless person.
  2. reckless or unpredictable behavior or action.
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Origin of harum-scarum

1665–75; earlier harum-starum rhyming compound based on obsolete hare to harass + stare
Related formshar·um-scar·um·ness, noun

Synonyms

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1, 2. erratic, impulsive, impetuous; giddy, scatterbrained.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for harum-scarum

Historical Examples

  • A harum-scarum fellow, and pretending to a great scorn for all the girls.

    A Set of Six

    Joseph Conrad

  • And of how they looked & the harum-scarum things they did & said.

  • She's such a wild, harum-scarum thing, and she does love to tease.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther

  • Of course it was a harum-scarum impression, but it gratified them to hold it.

  • She was only eighteen, and the most harum-scarum creature you ever saw.

    Mary Ware's Promised Land

    Annie Fellows Johnston


British Dictionary definitions for harum-scarum

harum-scarum

adjective, adverb
  1. in a reckless way or of a reckless nature
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noun
  1. a person who is impetuous or rash
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Word Origin

C17: perhaps from hare (in obsolete sense: harass) + scare, variant of stare 1; compare helter-skelter
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 harum-scarum

1670s (adv.), probably a compound of obsolete hare (v.) "harry" + scare (v.), with 'um as a reduced form of them. As an adjective from 1751; as a noun from 1784.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper