Definition of scab in English:

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Pronunciation: /skab/


1A dry, rough protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during healing.
Example sentences
  • As this mesh dries, it hardens and forms a scab to protect the wound as it heals.
  • Women should therefore actively avoid becoming pregnant for at least four weeks after vaccination and until the scab has completely healed and fallen off.
  • He has played until his fingers blistered, the blisters burst, the wounds scabbed and the scabs formed calluses.
2Mange or a similar skin disease in animals.
Example sentences
  • The state was also called in to deal with stock disease, especially scab - a major constraint on wool production.
  • Copperas was used as an eye ointment during the medieval period, to treat scab in sheep, and later (presumably in small quantities) as a laxative.
  • The disappointing turnout was probably due to the regulations which restricted sheep movements in a bid to prevent scab.
2.1 [usually with modifier] Any of a number of fungal diseases of plants in which rough patches develop, especially on apples and potatoes.
Example sentences
  • Apple scab is a fungal disease that causes black splotches on leaves and fruit.
  • Apple trees are commonly attacked by a fungal disease called apple scab.
  • The diseases are apple scab, powdery mildew, and cedar-apple rust.
3 informal A person or thing regarded with dislike and disgust.
3.1 derogatory A person who refuses to strike or to join a labor union or who takes over the job responsibilities of a striking worker.
Example sentences
  • The newspapers, in full swing of yellow journalism, want to see violence in the yards between the scabs and the striking workers, but there is no violence.
  • Industrialists struggling against labor unions often exploited the new immigrants, making them scabs during worker strikes.
  • The government will say that the ACTU has passed a motion condemning criminal conduct so it should also condemn workers standing on a picket line refusing to let scabs in because that's criminal conduct.

verb (scabs, scabbing, scabbed)

[no object]
1 (usually as adjective scabbed) Become encrusted or covered with a scab or scabs: she rested her scabbed fingers on his arm
More example sentences
  • By dinner time my hands were sore and swollen, my fingers were bloody and scabbed and my back was going to fall off.
  • The cut over his eye was half-healed and scabbed over, as were almost all of the wounds covering his body but they would be a long time healing in full.
  • Indeed, the cuts that my mother's murderer had made in my flesh were now scabbed over thickly, dark green splotches against my belly's tan hide and bronze scale.
2Act or work as a scab.
Example sentences
  • Men who scabbed in the 1926 General Strike were never forgotten or forgiven even to this day and the very mention invokes anger among the old miners.
  • Australia Post angered unionists by bringing in supervisors and their families to scab on the strike.
  • Only a tiny number of people scabbed from the outset, just for the sake of it.



Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • The tree isolated the wound with this scab-like gall, he explains, leaving the wasp an incubator and edible home for her offspring, which later chew themselves to the outside.
  • It was about five inches across, and covered in a thin orange scab-like layer.


Middle English (as a noun): from Old Norse skabb; related to dialect shab (compare with shabby). The sense 'contemptible person' (dating from the late 16th century) was probably influenced by Middle Dutch schabbe 'slut'.

  • This comes from Old Norse, going back to a Germanic root meaning ‘itch’. The sense ‘contemptible person’ dating from the late 16th century was probably influenced by Middle Dutch schabbe ‘slut’. It was used to refer to a blackleg in a strike from the mid 18th century, originally in the USA. Shabby (mid 17th century) comes from a dialect variant of the source of scab. Dr Johnson wrote that shabby was: ‘A word that has crept into conversation and low writing, but ought not to be admitted into the language’.

Words that rhyme with scab

blab, cab, confab, crab, Crabbe, dab, drab, fab, flab, gab, grab, jab, kebab, lab, nab, slab, smash-and-grab, stab, tab

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: scab

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