scr-

scr-
scr-
1. While as a general rule an initial sc- or sk- in a mod.Eng. word indicates that the word is not of OE. origin (OE. sc- being normally represented, in dialects as well as in standard English, by sh-), it is doubtful whether the rule applies to the combination scr-. The modern representation of OE. scr- in dialects varies between (ʃr-), (ʃər-), (ʒr-), and (sr-), and there is some reason for supposing that in some localities it normally becomes (skr-). Several words of undoubted OE. descent (there being no corresponding form in Scandinavian) have in ME. or in mod.E. two parallel forms with (ʃr-) and (skr-) respectively: e.g. shred, screed, from OE. scréade; shrew, dial. screw, from OE. scréawa; ME. screpe and schreape, from OE. screpan to scrape. The same variation of the initial consonant appears in some other words, which have not been found in OE., but which have Teut. cognates: scream, ME. also schreame; scram and shram dial. to benumb, to paralyse (cf. OE. scrimman of similar meaning); shrog and scrog dial., a bush. As the combination (skr-), unlike the Midland (sr-), is consistent with the articulatory habits of standard English, some dialectal forms with this beginning have found their way into the literary language; in one instance (screed, shred) an OE. word with scr- survives in two parallel forms with differentiation of meaning. In view of these facts, it seems doubtful whether there is sufficient ground for the usual assumption of Scandinavian origin for words like scrape, which existed in OE. (scrapian) as well as in ON. (skrapa).
2. Many Eng. words beginning with scr- agree more or less closely in meaning with other words differing from them in form only by the absence of the initial s. Examples of such pairs are crab (apple), scrab; crag (neck), scrag; cramble, scramble; cranch, scranch; cratch, scratch; crawl, scrawl (v.1); creak, screak; crimple, scrimple; cringe, scringe; croak, scroak (dial.); crump, scrump; crumple, scrumple; crunch, scrunch; crush, scrush (dial). It does not appear that these coincidences are due to any one general cause (see the articles on the several words), but it is probable that the existence of many pairs of synonyms with scr- and cr- produced a tendency to change cr-, in words expressive of sounds or physical movements, into scr- so as to render the word echoic or phonetically symbolic; apparent examples are scrawl v.1, scranch, scrunch, scringe, scroak.
For other instances in dialects see Wright Eng. Dial. Gram. §323, where examples are also given of parallel forms with (sk, k) before a vowel or (w).

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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