See also: skam

English edit

Etymology edit

US carnival slang of uncertain origin. Possibly from scamp (swindler, cheater) or Irish cam (crooked). Also possibly from Danish skam; if so, it would be a doublet of shame and sham. First use appears c. 1963 in the periodical Time. The word "scam" became common use among the US "drug culture" in early 1980 after Operation ABSCAM, an FBI sting operation directed at public officials, became public.

Pronunciation edit

  • enPR: skăm, IPA(key): /skæm/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æm

Noun edit

scam (plural scams)

  1. A fraudulent deal.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:deception
    That marketing scheme looks like a scam to me.
  2. Something that is promoted using scams.
    That new diet burger is a scam.

Coordinate terms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Verb edit

scam (third-person singular simple present scams, present participle scamming, simple past and past participle scammed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To defraud or embezzle.
    Synonym: con
    They tried to scam her out of her savings.
  2. (slang) To seek out a partner for casual sex; to hit on.
    • 2005, Robert Antoni, Carnival, New York, N.Y.: Black Cat, →ISBN, page 54:
      His friend nudged me. "It's true. JJ only scams black ladies." / "You don't say?" / "J-boy scammed a real live Miss Black Universe once. Met her in a disco down in Honduras. Wearing her title. Since then he's been obsessed."

Translations edit

References edit

Anagrams edit

Middle Irish edit

Etymology edit

Attested only in the plural form scaim. From Proto-Celtic *skamos. Cognate with Welsh ysgafn ("light") and Welsh ysgyfaint ("(pair of) lungs"), Breton skañv, Cornish skav.

Noun edit

scam

  1. lung

References edit

  • Matasović, R. (2009). Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, p.339. Brill: Boston.