an object, usually a figure of a person in old clothes, set up to frighten crows or other birds away from crops.
anything frightening but not really dangerous.
a person in ragged clothes.
an extremely thin person.

Origin of scarecrow

First recorded in 1545–55; scare + crow1
Related formsscare·crow·ish, scare·crow·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scarecrow

Contemporary Examples of scarecrow

Historical Examples of scarecrow

  • “I would not be seen in the street with that scarecrow,” murmured Giles.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • In the strange illumination of the search beams he seemed the wraith of a scarecrow.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • He once told my mother that he had more than once changed clothes with a scarecrow.

    Adventures and Recollections

    Bill o'th' Hoylus End

  • It was a miserable-looking woman in clothes that might have been stolen from a scarecrow.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Do you happen to know whatever became of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow?

British Dictionary definitions for scarecrow



an object, usually in the shape of a man, made out of sticks and old clothes to scare birds away from crops
a person or thing that appears frightening but is not actually harmful
  1. an untidy-looking person
  2. a very thin person
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 scarecrow

1550s, from scare (v.) + crow (n.). Earliest reference is to a person employed to scare birds. Meaning "device of straw and cloth in grotesque resemblance of a man, set up in a grain field or garden to frighten crows," is implied by 1580s; hence "gaunt, ridiculous person" (1590s). The older name for such a thing was shewel. Shoy-hoy apparently is another old word for a straw-stuffed scarecrow (Cobbett began using it as a political insult in 1819 and others picked it up; OED defines it as "one who scares away birds from a sown field," and says it is imitative of their cry).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper