I can’t quite remember why I was thinking of the word ‘scrap’, but fr some reason I was, and thinking that it had two obvious meanings as a verb – to scrap meaning to get rid of something, and to scrap meaning to have a fight. These definitions led me to think of the associated nouns, scrap being a small bit of something, and a scrap meaning a fight – and probably quite a trivial fight. Then I got to wondering what the origin of the word was and went to my favourite word sites,

I wasn’t surprised to find that the small piece/scrap came from Old Norse skrap, it has that sort of sound, and it actual means, well, a scrap of something. However that came from the word which means to scrape or scratch or even cut something which I understood to then lead to ‘scrap’ being associated with ‘iron’, as what was left over after casting an item or rolling metal – but that has a much later date of origin, the late eighteenth century – in fact the first recorded use of scrap iron is 1794. The fighting scrap is also related as it means ‘an abrasive encounter’ – thank you, etymonline.

When it comes to scrap metal, I didn’t realise, or even think that there were different sources for the waste and discarded metal. If someone had asked me, I’d probably think first of cars and vehicles beyond repair, then maybe I’d think of other metal like old railings and fences – but perhaps that idea is coloured by tales of railings being sacrificed for the war effort and seeing the stumps where they had been hacked off from where they were embedded in concrete. I found a list of sources of scrap metal:

  • heavy melting steel found in as plates, beams, columns, channels and machinery/ implements
  • old car bodies without interiors and wheels
  • cast iron bathtubs, machinery, pipes, and engine blocks
  • pressing steel from domestic sources such as ’white goods’ roofing iron, water heaters/ tanks, sheet metal offcuts
  • reinforcing bars or mesh
  • turnings – the remains of drilling or shaping steels known as borings or swarf
  • manganese steel which is non-magnetic, hardened steel
  • rails

Then I remembered other uses of the word, scrapbook, scrap-heap and scrapyard, and then I was amazed at the number of synonyms, forty in one list! Some were obvious, such as offcut, oddment snippet, shred, remnant, speck, crumb, morsel, trace and spot, but some were a little more unusual. Next time I’m writing and need to use the word scrap, maybe instead I could refer to whit, scintilla, tittle, jot, modicum, stim, smidgen, smidge, tad, scantling or scruple.

One thing I didn’t come across while finding out about scrap, scraps and scrapping was that delcvious extra you can get from some fish and chip shops -‘fish, chips and scraps, please!  – scraps in this case are the little bits of fried batter which have dropped off the fish, scrunchy and delicious!

Writing about scrap iron took my mind back to this:


    1. Lois

      You’re very welcome, yes there are a few versions of the song, each hilarious in different ways. One of them by Harry Champion must have been recorded during one of the wars because there’s a plea at the end for people do donate their metal items!

      Liked by 1 person

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