scapegrace, mercy me!

Taking a break from working on a paper… listening to the Christian band “MercyMe” – I like that name. Sounds like the opposite of “Judge me.”

Just discovered the word “scapegrace,” which Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses a few times in her 1911 novel The Crux to describe one syphilic (and symbolically deathly) young man named Morton. Sounds so much like “scapegoat,” it confused me.  It is used to mean “a man or boy of reckless and disorderly habits; an incorrigible scamp” (so the OED). The OED reports that it’s been mainly used in the 19th century, is related to the older “scapethrift” and “want-grace,” and literally means “one who escapes from the grace of God.”  So it’s not THAT far off from scapegoat.  Morton is, in fact, somewhat scapegoated, though Gilman gives little sympathy to him.

Anyway, back to work…


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