scarecrow

[ skair-kroh ]
/ ˈskɛərˌkroʊ /

noun

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scarecrow

British Dictionary definitions for scarecrow

scarecrow

/ (ˈskɛəˌkrəʊ) /

noun

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
informal
  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

scarecrow


n.

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