Where does the expression “hurry scurry” come from and What does hurry scurry mean?

Oddly enough, in the earliest use of hurry, in the last years of the sixteenth century, it was nothing more than a variant of hurly, meaning “disturbance, tumult.”

That is the sense in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (Act IV, Scene vi): “His remedies are tame, the present peace, And quietnesse of the people, which before Were in wilde hurry.”

And, in fact, through the next century or two we had hurry-burry, hurry-durry, and hurry-curry, all imitating hurly-burly, before finally settling upon hurry-scurry in the middle of the eighteenth century.

But not only was hurry coined in this manner; so was scurry, though it did not find separate place in the language until another hundred years had passed.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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