Scaphism was a rather horrible torture/execution method thought to be used by the Ancient Persians, wherein a person was tied between two boats, slathered in honey, set to sail, and left to be eaten by bugs and rats (although it's possible this was made up by the Greeks to make the Persians look bad). The root of the word is Ancient Greek skaphe, which meant "boat"; -ism denoted a state and came from Proto-Indo-European mos. Skaphe literally meant "thing cut out" and, through Proto-Hellenic, derived from PIE skep, meaning "cut". That's also the root of the term scaphoid, which describes the carpal bones in the wrist and apparently got its name because they look boat-shaped, and the word bathyscape, which is a type of deep-sea submarine (bathys meaning "deep" in Ancient Greek).
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior 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.