Scrod (also schrod) was originally any young (2.5 lb or 1.1 kg or less) cod, haddock, or other whitefish, split and boned. Most typically young cod is the modern mainstay on menus calling for Scrod. Scrod (or schrod) is a staple in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian seafood and fish markets and as many restaurants, whether specializing in seafood or not.
The term is often credited to chefs at Boston’s Parker House Hotel, also the originator of Parker House rolls. A number of apocryphal etymologies exist. A popular acronym used in New England for scrod is "seaman’s catch received on deck", which implies whatever type of "whitefish" caught that day would be used universally for cooking. Another dubious folk etymology holds that the term comes from the acronym “small cod remaining on dock”, but these are likely backronyms. The word most likely comes from the obsolete Dutch schrood, "piece cut off", or from scrawed, from Cornish dialect. Other folk expressions explain that when spelled "schrod" it is a haddock, and is otherwise cod. In Dutch, schrod means "to fillet", another possible etymology for "scrod". In Norwegian, "skrei", from skrida which in Old Norse meant to wander, is the ancient name for a distinct type of cod that wanders along the Norwegian coast (as opposed to the coastal cod called "torsk" that typically remains in one region). It could be hypothesized that the Vikings brought this old term to England, where it through time morphed into the word scrod.
Scrawing was a method for preparing a fish for cooking by splitting it open, drying it in the sun and/or salting it overnight to remove moisture, and then broiling it when dry. Cooking a young cod or the split tail of a large cod, with the same preparation method as scrawing, has been labeled as "scrod" in a cookbook published as early as 1851. According to a friend of Daniel Webster, Webster greatly enjoyed scrawed cod for breakfast.
Yankee Magazine cited that the term "scrod" was actually an acronym that was used on daily menus standing for the fish of the day since many were made up before the day's catch was brought in. Often Cod in those days, it may be the reason that Scrod (Select Catch Retrieved On the Day) became associated with young cod.