Scoff has long been an English slang term meaning to gobble down one's food. In the late 1950s those crazy Americans modified this, apparently without cause, to 'scarf'.

In current usage scarf is most often used in the phrases 'scarf down' and 'scarf up', both meaning to eat quickly, hungrily, and/or greedily. The phrase 'scarf up' has been generalized to also mean 'grab greedily', although this is less common. And finally, 'scarf out' is sometimes used to mean 'overeat'.

The average American will probably no longer recognize 'scoff' as a term related to food in any way, and will scoff at your malapropism if you use it in that sense.

Brevity Quest 2016

Scarf (?), n. [Icel. skarfr.]

A cormorant.



© Webster 1913.

Scarf, n.; pl. Scarfs, rarely Scarves (#). [Cf. OF. escharpe a piligrim's scrip, or wallet (handing about the neck.), F. 'echarpe sash, scarf; probably from OHG. scharpe pocket; also (from the French) Dan. skiaerf; Sw. skarp, Prov. G. scharfe, LG. scherf, G. scharpe; and also AS. scearf a fragment; possibly akin to E. scrip a wallet. Cf. Scarp a scarf.]

An article of dress of a light and decorative character, worn loosely over the shoulders or about the neck or the waist; a light shawl or handkerchief for the neck; also, a cravat; a neckcloth.

Put on your hood and scarf. Swift.

With care about the banners, scarves, and staves. R. Browning.


© Webster 1913.

Scarf, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Scarfed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Scarfing.]


To throw on loosely; to put on like a scarf.

"My sea-gown scarfed about me."



To dress with a scarf, or as with a scarf; to cover with a loose wrapping.



© Webster 1913.

Scarf, v. t. [Sw. skarfva to eke out, to join together, skarf a seam, joint; cf. Dan. skarre to joint, to unite timber, Icel. skara to clinich the planks of a boat, G. scharben to chop, to cut small.] (a)

To form a scarf on the end or edge of, as for a joint in timber, metal rods, etc.


To unite, as two pieces of timber or metal, by a scarf joint.


© Webster 1913.

Scarf (?), n. (a)

In a piece which is to be united to another by a scarf joint, the part of the end or edge that is tapered off, rabbeted, or notched so as to be thinner than the rest of the piece.


A scarf joint.

Scarf joint (a) A joint made by overlapping and bolting or locking together the ends of two pieces of timber that are halved, notched, or cut away so that they will fit each other and form a lengthened beam of the same size at the junction as elsewhere. (b) A joint formed by welding, riveting, or brazing together the overlapping scarfed ends, or edges, of metal rods, sheets, etc. -- Scarf weld. See under Weld.


© Webster 1913.

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