scrute

Sesquiotica

Oh, you sad scraper, scruting some screed scribbled by a scruffy scribe, be it scrubbed on your screen or scrawled in scrimped script on a scroll, or scratched like scrimshaw: so much lexical scree to scramble through, you could just screech. Can a scrupulous scrutator scrounge some scrap of sense from it, or should you just tell the scoundrel to scrute themself?

Scrute? And why not? We have scrutiny and scrutineer and scrutinize, with that in in, but we also have scrutate, and we have inscrutable and also (yes) scrutable. And they all trace back to Latin scrutari ‘examine, scrutinize’. It, in turn, apparently comes from scruta ‘old or broken stuff, trash, frippery, trumpery’ (per OED). Which means that the source sense of scrutiny and all the other scrut words is rag-picking. Digging through the detritus, scraping and scrabbling in the scraps and scree. Scruting.

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