Today, the word scamp is basically used as a synonym of ragamuffin, but when it was first used in the 1780s, it meant "highway robber" (this just gradually became less extreme). That's from the verb scamper, which was first attested in 1687 and has a fascinating history of its own. In many of its earliest usages, scamper had a much more specific connotation of soldiers sneaking off a battlefield. This probably originated from Dutch military slang and the word schampen, which further derives from Old French escampere, meaning "decamp". Escampere traces to the Latin roots ex-, meaning "out", and "campus", meaning "field", which fits: someone scamping was leaving the field of battle. Campus derives from Proto-Indo-European khemp, meaning "curve" or "bend", and ex- is from PIE eghs, "out".
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.