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Scofflaw

A scofflaw is someone who flouts breaking the law, especially liquor laws, tax laws and traffic laws. Scofflaw is an American word, and one of the few words that we know exactly when and where it originated. Scofflaw was coined at the prompting of a contest in the Boston Herald newspaper in 1924, designed to invent a word describing someone who is “a lawless drinker of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” At the time, America was in the throes of Prohibition, a time when making, distributing or drinking alcohol was illegal. Scofflaw is a melding of two words, scoff and law. There were twenty-five thousand entries in the contest and interestingly, two separate contestants submitted the word scofflaw. The winners shared a two hundred dollar prize. After the repeal of Prohibition, the word scofflaw fell out of use. It was revived in the 1950s to describe someone who flagrantly breaks the law .


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Examples

The leaders of the Malheur occupation, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are the sons of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher and public lands scofflaw who gained notoriety two years ago following a standoff with federal law enforcement officers. (The Nation)

The Sun Sentinel also found that scofflaw cops caused a high incidence of crashes, including crashes that killed and maimed civilians. (The Sun Sentinel)

Howard Marks, a Welsh-born, Oxford-trained drug smuggler who for years ran a globe-spanning marijuana ring, enraging officials and entertaining the public on both sides of the Atlantic as a countercultural scofflaw, died April 10. (The Washington Post)

“Academy of Art quite simply is an egregious land-use scofflaw, and its defiance persists at the worst possible time for our residents.” (The San Francisco Examiner)

He has been accused by the targets of three separate investigations of drinking excessively in their presence, plying suspected scofflaw hunters with alcohol before urging them to commit crimes – such as driving deer, shooting deer out of season and carrying a loaded gun in a car – and committing some of the offenses himself for which the subjects of his investigations were later prosecuted. (The Portland Press Herald)

 

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