Back in Middle English, the word scabbard could be spelled a number of ways, including scauberc, scaberke, skabrek, scabarge, skabarge, scaubert, and more (the modern form was popularized around the middle of the eighteenth century). It comes from the Anglo-Norman word escauberc, which had the modern definition but also an auxiliary meaning of "vagina". That may have come through Frankish or another Germanic language, but it definitely traces to the Proto-Germanic roots skeriz, meaning "blade", and bergaz, meaning "protection". Skeriz comes from the verb skerana ("to shear", from Proto-Indo-European sker, meaning "cut") and bergaz, which also composes all or parts of harbor, belfry, barrow, berg, and harbinger, comes from Proto-Indo-European berg, meaning "high".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.