The Dictionary Series: Harum-Scarum


\HAIR-uh m-SKAIR-uh m


1. Reckless, rash, irresponsible

2. Disorganized, uncontrolled


Harum-scarum entered English in the late 1600s. The first element of this rhyming compound, harum, is based on the obsolete verb hare, meaning “to harass” or on the verb hare “to run like a hare”; the second element is based on the common verb scare.


She looked out the window again and sighed.

The noise was unbearable, intolerable really. She shouldn’t have to stand for it and yet she did. She was the epitome of a good neighbour, unlike those hooligans next door.

It all started with one Daniel Sousa who had moved into the house several years prior. He kept to himself but was out at all hours of the day. It was rather unseemly she thought. Especially for one who purported to be a salesman.

He had attended a few neighbourhood functions but rarely had the time. He had a girlfriend, Violet was her name, she believed and she was extremely sweet and lovely. Of course, she didn’t last long and soon there was another woman around.

The peculiar Miss Carter.

Miss Carter had no such qualms about public displays of affection, once grabbing Mr. Sousa and kissing him right on the front step of the house! For all to see! It was quite a sight and one that kept her and the other neighbourhood ladies talking for quite a while.

She was introduced to Miss Carter at a neighbourhood party and instantly she knew there was something about her that was odd. It wasn’t just that she was English. She carried herself with an arrogance that was astounding. And of course, she was wearing some figure hugging dress that had all the men in the neighbourhood gawking at her.

Of course, she couldn’t deny that Miss Carter and Mr. Sousa were in love with each other. They barely took their eyes off each other even when conversing with other people. And Miss Carter didn’t seem to mind that Mr. Sousa was missing a leg.

The neighbourhood ladies had talked about Mr. Sousa. Marjorie said he was cute but it was a shame he only had one leg. He couldn’t be of that much use around the house.

But she had to admit, they made do. It wasn’t soon after that Miss Carter moved in with Mr. Sousa.

And they were unmarried!

It was the shock of the neighbourhood and the gossip lasted for several weeks. She wasn’t a big gossip like the other ladies but even she was shocked. People these days. They have no sense of propriety.

It was a greater shock to learn that Miss Carter worked. Even after they finally got married and she was Mrs. Sousa, she cheerfully went off to work each day, sometimes not coming home until very late indeed.

A secretary and a salesman indeed!

She knew something was fishy but she didn’t know what.

Of course the scandal only grew once Mrs. Sousa became with child. She continued to work throughout her pregnancy and once she had delivered the babe, she stayed home for only a month and then she was back at work again!

They had a lovely woman, a Mrs. Jarvis, come and take care of the little boy during the day.

But often Mr. Sousa himself would stay home and take care of the child.

Who heard of such a ridiculous arrangement?

Their marriage was clearly unconventional to say the least and it was quite obvious Mrs. Sousa was in charge.

And those public displays of affection still occurred even after they were married.

Her Harry hadn’t kissed her like that since they were dating. And yet, Mr and Mrs. Sousa acted like newlyweds! It was scandalous and ridiculous!

Even after the second babe came along, they were still very affectionate. It really wasn’t proper.

And now she had to put up with the noise. All four of them, even the baby were out on the front lawn. The oldest, Michael, was playing amongst the leaves, tossing them and shouting as they fell to the grass.

Mr and Mrs. Sousa were tossing leaves at each other as they sat on the lawn, the baby sitting on Mr. Sousa’s lap.

Their laughter rung out and she shook her head once more.

They allowed that child of theirs to be far too noisy.

If she had a child, and she didn’t, she would make sure they knew their place and how to behave.

That didn’t seem to matter too much to Mr. and Mrs. Sousa.

She glanced out the window once again at the four of them gleefully playing in the front yard and then she returned to her cup of tea.

Harry was out again at another one of his club meetings and as usual, she was all alone.

And there was no chance of her having any peace and quiet with all the shouting next door.

And yet, deep in the back of her mind, she couldn’t help but be a bit wistful.

They may be quite the harum-scarum over there but it seemed as if it was a house full of love and joy.

And if she fully admitted it to herself, she wished she had that.

Instead, she drank her tea alone.


“In  a world where Steve Rogers was assassinated before he could become Captain America, Peggy Carter joined the Super Soldier Program in his place,”. “A former field agent, Peggy combined the powers of the Super Soldier serum with her top-notch combat training, defending the ideals of freedom and equality as that world’s Captain America.”