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Author Topic: Did the word 'Scrooge' to mean a miser start with Dickens?
Morgaine La Raq Star
The "Was on Sale" Song


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DH & I were talking about A Christmas Carol & I was thinking about the story & the name 'Scrooge'. These days, if I say 'My Uncle Artie is a Scrooge' we instantly know what it means. But was it used the same way in Dickens day or did his use of the last name 'Scrooge' make it become used the way it is today?
Any information welcome!

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Signora Del Drago
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Scrooge does appear to have originated with Dickens.

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Page Three
Deck the Malls


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Short answer: Yep, it originated with A Christmas Carol. Here's Merriam-Webster's entry.
If it had existed previously, Scrooge would be the only character with a speaking name in the entire story, which would be a bit strange.

ETA: Spanked!

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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Not only did Dickens invent the character, it looks like he invented the word itself. I searched around several genealogy sites, and could find no reference to an actual surname "Scrooge".
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Morgaine La Raq Star
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Thanks guys! How very interesting. I wonder if the word came into its current usage in Dickens time?

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I cannot live without books-Thomas Jefferson *~* A child educated only at school is an uneducated child - George Santayana
I'm going to pummel you with such zeal, Buddha will explode! *~* Never miss a good chance to shut up - Will Rogers

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Brad from Georgia
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Dickens certainly popularized the novel enough; he insisted on an expensive product, but also insisted that the publishers make it affordable, shaving down their profit margin considerably, and he loved giving public readings of A Christmas Carol. I have no cite, but I dimly remember reading an academic paper that suggested a Scottish word for scrimping might have given Dickens the idea for the name Scrooge. It might have been spelled scrudge or scroodge, but as I say it has been some time since I read that paper. I probably couldn't even begin to locate it now.

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I'mNotDedalus
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The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists "Scroo(d)ge" as a variant form of "Scrouge":

quote:
Scrouge (skrūdƺ, skraudƺ), v. colloq. or vulgar.
Also skrowdge, scroodge, scrooge, scroudge, scrowge, skrouge. [App. an onomatopoeic alteration of SCRUZE.]

1. trans. To incommode by pressing against (a person); to encroach on (a person's) space in sitting or standing; to crowd.

The earliest printed usage, according to the OED, was in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, 1755.

One fascinating point, though, is the OED's third documented use, attributed to Dickens, himself, in Chapter 39 of The Old Curiosity Shop:

quote:
At last they got to the theatre, which was Astley's: and in some two minutes after they had reached the yet unopened door, little Jacob was squeezed flat, and the baby had received divers concussions, and Barbara's mother's umbrella had been carried several yards off and passed back to her over the shoulders of the people, and Kit had hit a man on the head with the handkerchief of apples for 'scrowdging' his parent with unnecessary violence, and there was a great uproar. [Emphasis Added]
The Old Curiosity Shop was serialized between 1840-1841, approximately 2-3 years before the publication of A Christmas Carol (1843). Of course, these are publication dates, which may or may not significantly vary from the actual written dates.

Another interesting point that may relate to Dickens' meaning beneath the name (as the man thoroughly enjoyed this technique) is the OED’s provision for a particular U.S. colloquial definition of "Scrouge":

quote:
1851 B. H. HALL College Words, Scrouge, an exaction. A very long lesson, or any hard or unpleasant task, is usually among students denominated a scrouge.
I don't own any biographies on Dickens, so for the time being I'll have to trust Wikipedia's entry. According to their article, "...on 2 December 1867, Dickens gave his first public reading in the United States at a New York City theatre."

It's safe to assume, I think, that Dickens had Dr. Johnson's Dictionary or a Victorian variant on hand. Thus, the U.K. definition would have readily been available. As for the American variety, although the dates of publication and visit don't correspond, there's no reason to entirely dismiss the possibility of Dickens' awareness.

Both definitions, nevertheless, hold interesting metaphoric relationships to the character of Scrooge and, more poignantly, to his night conversion.

See, "Scrouge." The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 9th U.S. Printing. 1971.

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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I take immense pride in the fact that my little post generated so much useful activity from ImNotDedalus.

Thanks! See, this is why I'm a full professor now...I don't work myself, but I inspire work in others.

Seriously, very interesting and nice work!

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"No hard feelin's and HOPpy New Year!"--Walt Kelly
Hear what you're missing: ARTC podcasts! http://artcpodcast.org/

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I'mNotDedalus
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Hey, any excuse to use my OED is a good excuse, Brad. I live for the magnifying glass.

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The salty fragrance of L’Eau I’mNotDedalus - made entirely of and entirely for sea turtles.

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