Probably from Italian scappare (to run away), influenced by Cockney rhyming slang Scapa Flow = go.

  • An alternative etymology traces the word "scarper" to the Cockney rhyming slang Scapa Flow (go) (as in, e.g., "go away").


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈskɑː(ɹ).pə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɑː(r)pə(r)


scarper (third-person singular simple present scarpers, present participle scarpering, simple past and past participle scarpered)

  1. (Britain, slang) To run away; to flee; to escape.
    • 1904, John Coleman, Fifty years of an actors̓ life, Volume 1, page 54,
      Out went the lights, as he continued, "That sneak Whiskers have just blown the gaff to old Slow-Coach, and he'll be here in two two's to give you beans — so scarper, laddies — scarper!"
    • 2001, Ardal O'Hanlon, Knick Knack Paddy Whack, page 7,
      The tramps scarpered, the street-traders pushing prams scarpered, half of Dublin scarpered as if they all had something to hide.
    • 2007, The Guardian, [1]
      Helm writes: 'As if she were some street criminal, ready to scarper, Ruth's home was swooped upon by [Assistant Commissioner John] Yates's men and she was forced to dress in the presence of a female police officer.