Scofflaw

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Scofflaw is a noun coined during the Prohibition era which originally denoted a person who drinks illegally, or otherwise ignored anti-drinking laws. It is a compound of the words scoff and law. Its use has been extended to mean one who flouts any law, especially those difficult to enforce, and particularly traffic laws.

Etymology[edit]

"Scofflaw" was the winning entry of a nationwide competition to create a new word for "the lawless drinker," with a prize of $200 in gold, sponsored by Delcevare King, a banker and enthusiastic supporter of Prohibition, in 1923.[1] Two separate entrants, Henry Irving Dale and Kate L. Butler, submitted the word, and split the $200 prize equally. Scofflaw was deemed the best and most suitable out of over 25,000 entries.[2] The word was from the outset frequently used until the eventual repeal of Prohibition in 1933. It experienced a revival in the 1950s, as a term for anyone who displays disdain for laws difficult to enforce. The word itself remains a symbol of the Prohibition era.

Use[edit]

"The Scofflaw" is the name of the 99th episode of Seinfeld.

The second part of the three-part documentary Prohibition is titled A Nation of Scofflaws and documents the origin and use of the word.[2]

A New York Times investigation into the ship Dona Liberta is titled Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship.[3] It was later incorporated into chapter four of The Outlaw Ocean (2019),[4] by Ian Urbina as The Scofflaw Fleet.

Concerns raised about derelict and scofflaw vessels in Vancouver's False Creek. [5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "DELCEVARE KING, BANKER, 89 DEAD; Prohibitionist's Contest Led to Coining of 'Scofflaw'". The New York Times. March 22, 1964.
  2. ^ a b "Ken Burns: Prohibition". PBS. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  3. ^ Urbina, Ian (17 July 2015). "Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  4. ^ "The Outlaw Ocean". The Outlaw Ocean. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Concerns raised about derelict and scofflaw vessels in Vancouver's False Creek | Globalnews.ca". Global News.

External links[edit]