(Modern English )


Presumably derived from the late OE n. scruf, a metathetic variant of scurf (dat. sg. sceorf; see Hogg 5.67 n2). The absence of palatalization evident in the ME forms is usually regarded as indicating influence from the ON cognate, cp. Icel (pl.) skurfur, Dan skurv, Sw skorf (< PGmc *skurfa-, cp. also MLG schorf, OHG scorf).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Icel skurfur, Norw skurv, ODan skurf, Dan skurv, Sw skorv

OE Cognate

scurf, sceorf 'scurf, scabby condition of the skin'

Phonological and morphological markers

absence of palatalization of */sk/

Summary category



The adj. is a hapax legomenon. The n. occurs in late OE (incl. variants with metathesis: see OED), and MED has citations of the n. scurf from Cursor onwards, with most (but not all) citations from N, E and Midlands texts.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 1546

The MS is sometimes read as <strof> at Cl 1546 but always emended to scrof as the alliteration requires (Menner 413).


MED scrof (adj.) , OED scrof (adj.) , OED scruff (n.) , HTOED , Mag. skurfur, Orel *skurfaz, Nielsen skurv, AEW scurf, sceorf