British. Informal. to prevent from happening or succeeding; ruin; wreck.
The origin of the verb scupper is uncertain. It originated as military slang (“to surprise and slaughter; utterly defeat”). The verb scupper may be a development from the noun scupper “an opening in a ship’s side even with the deck to allow water to flow away,” but the semantic development is unclear. Scupper entered English in the 19th century.
A row between the EEC and the US is threatening to scupper the UN Convention on the Ozone Layer, which was to have been agreed in Vienna next month.
McMaster has tried to prevent his celebrity from scuppering his career.
Edentate means “lacking teeth, toothless,” a neutral term; it is also used in taxonomic names for an order of mammals lacking front teeth, e.g. sloths, armadillos, another neutral sense. The origin of edentate is the Latin adjective ēdentātus, the past participle of the verb ēdentāre “to knock (someone’s) teeth out,” definitely not a neutral sense. Edentate entered English in the 19th century.
As would have been the case a million years ago, a typical colonist can expect to be edentate by the time he or she is thirty years old, having suffered many skull-cracking toothaches on the way.
Anyway, an edentate man led a bloated, mouth-foaming goat down a road webbed with knee-deep gullies.
secret, underhanded, or scandalous: backstairs gossip.
Backstairs was first recorded in 1635-45. It’s the adjectival extension of the noun back stairs.
I say to Lord Hartington before you all, not by any backstairs intrigue and not by any secret negotiations, but in the face of this great meeting held in this great town and before all of England … “Come over and help us!”
He would never believe it–it was a nasty piece of backstairs gossip!
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