Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English scathe, from Old English sceaþa (also sceaþu (scathe, harm, injury), from Proto-West Germanic *skaþō, from Proto-Germanic *skaþô (damage, scathe), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)keh₁t- (damage, harm). Cognate with Scots skaith.


  • IPA(key): /skeɪð/, /skeɪθ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪð, -eɪθ


scathe (countable and uncountable, plural scathes)

  1. (archaic or dialect) Harm, damage, injury, hurt, misfortune, or waste.
    • 1870, William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson (translators), “XLIII”, in The Story of the Volsungs:
      Now telleth the tale concerning the sons of Gudrun, that she had arrayed their war-raiment in such wise, that no steel would bite thereon; and she bade them play not with stones or other heavy matters, for that it would be to their scathe if they did so.
Derived termsEdit

For quotations using this term, see Citations:scathe.


Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English scathen, skathen, from Old English sceaþian, scaþan (to scathe, hurt, harm, injure) and Old Norse skaða (to hurt), both from Proto-Germanic *skaþōną (to injure). Cognate with Scots skaith, Danish skade, Dutch schaden, German schaden, Swedish skada; compare Gothic 𐍃𐌺𐌰𐌸𐌾𐌰𐌽 (skaþjan), Old Norse skeðja (to hurt). Compare Ancient Greek ἀσκηθής (askēthḗs, unhurt), Albanian shkathët (skillful, adept, clever).



scathe (third-person singular simple present scathes, present participle scathing, simple past and past participle scathed)

  1. To injure or harm.
  2. To blast; scorch; wither.
Derived termsEdit



Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Unfortunate, a pity, a shame.
    • 14th c. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales. General Prologue: 445-6.
      A good wif was ther of biside Bathe, / But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
      There was a good woman from near Bath, / but she was somewhat deaf, and that was a pity.