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See more synonyms for scarecrow on Thesaurus.com
  1. an object, usually a figure of a person in old clothes, set up to frighten crows or other birds away from crops.
  2. anything frightening but not really dangerous.
  3. a person in ragged clothes.
  4. an extremely thin person.
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Origin of scarecrow

First recorded in 1545–55; scare + crow1
Related formsscare·crow·ish, scare·crow·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for scarecrow

spectacle, beggar, urchin, vagrant, orphan, waif, tramp, tatterdemalion, bum, vagabond, loafer, hobo, wastrel, guttersnipe, gamin, scarecrow, blot, ogre, fright, mess

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


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper