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See more synonyms for scupper on Thesaurus.com
  1. Nautical. a drain at the edge of a deck exposed to the weather, for allowing accumulated water to drain away into the sea or into the bilges.Compare freeing port.
  2. a drain, closed by one or two flaps, for allowing water from the sprinkler system of a factory or the like to run off a floor of the building to the exterior.
  3. any opening in the side of a building, as in a parapet, for draining off rain water.
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Origin of scupper1

1475–85; earlier skoper. See scoop, -er1


verb (used with object) British.
  1. Military. to overwhelm; surprise and destroy, disable, or massacre.
  2. Informal. to prevent from happening or succeeding; ruin; wreck.
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Origin of scupper2

First recorded in 1880–85; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for scupper

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It obstructs the approaches to the 'scupper' in front of my cabin door.

    Oswald Langdon

    Carson Jay Lee

  • "Here, all hands," he ordered, and shoved his rifle out of the scupper.

    Gold Out of Celebes

    Aylward Edward Dingle

  • Then he indicated the two glasses, which had rolled into the scupper channel.

  • "Not so easy," he muttered, flicking the match into the scupper.

  • Sneak aboard, get into a scupper or a barrel or something, and ship for America.'

    From the Bottom Up

    Alexander Irvine

British Dictionary definitions for scupper


  1. nautical a drain or spout allowing water on the deck of a vessel to flow overboard
  2. an opening in the side of a building for draining off water
  3. a drain in a factory floor for running off the water from a sprinkler system
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Word Origin

C15 skopper, of uncertain origin; perhaps related to scoop


verb (tr) British
  1. slang to overwhelm, ruin, or disable
  2. to sink (one's ship) deliberately
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Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
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 scupper


"opening in a ship's side at deck level to let the water flow out," early 15c., perhaps from Old French escopir "to spit out," or related to Dutch schop "shovel," or from Middle English scope "scoop" (see scoop (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper