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  1. having a rough surface because of minute points or projections.
  2. indecent or scandalous; risqué; obscene: scabrous books.
  3. full of difficulties.
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Origin of scabrous

1575–85; < Latin scab(e)r rough + -ous
Related formsscab·rous·ly, adverbscab·rous·ness, nounun·scab·rous, adjectiveun·scab·rous·ly, adverbun·scab·rous·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for scabrous


  1. roughened because of small projections; scaly
  2. indelicate, indecent, or salaciousscabrous humour
  3. difficult to deal with; knotty
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Derived Formsscabrously, adverbscabrousness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin scaber rough; related to scabies
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 scabrous


1570s, "harsh, unmusical" (implied in scabrously), from Late Latin scabrosus "rough," from Latin scaber "rough, scaly," related to scabere "to scratch, scrape" (see scabies). Sense in English evolved to "vulgar" (1881), "squalid" (1939), and "nasty, repulsive" (c.1951). Classical literal sense of "rough, rugged" attested in English from 1650s. Related: Scabrously; scabrousness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper