Old English scearn "dung, muck," from Proto-Germanic *skarnom- (cf. Old Frisian skern, Old Norse skarn, Danish skarn), a past participle form from *sker- "to cut" (see shear). Cf. Old English scearnbudda "dung beetle," and Scottish Sharnie "a name given to the person who cleans a cow-house" [Jamieson].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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