Where does the word “Scaramouch” come from and What does Scaramouch mean?

Like our stock companies today, traveling groups of actors in the Middle Ages had a limited repertory, which then was often but one play.

Such a group of strolling players, from Italy, visited London in the latter part of the seventeenth century, bringing with them a pantomime in which one of the chief characters was Scaramuccia, a representation of a Spanish don who was a coward and a braggart.

His part in the play involved a series of skirmishes with the hero, and his name is, appropriately, the Italian word for “skirmish.”

This character made a great hit with the London audiences, and they took his name, later modified by the French spelling, Scaramouche, into the language, applying it to a person having the characteristics of the boastful coward who was the original Scaramuccia.

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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