One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The back of a person's or animal's neck.‘he grabbed him by the scruff of his neck’
- ‘Consider, in this light, ‘to neck someone out of the room’ which is supposed to mean, ‘taking somebody by the scruff of the neck and ejecting from the company.’’
- ‘It never really holds you by the scruff of the neck and hurls you into its vortex, for there is no vortex to this periodic gangster drama.’
- ‘He grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and tossed them out.’
- ‘Beethoven often insists on taking us by the scruff of the neck and giving us a thorough shaking.’
- ‘It shows how restricted life had become prior to their taking it by the scruff of the neck and shaking many things into a collective, vibrant consciousness.’
- ‘Bong Ra's ‘Archie Bunker Disciples’ takes The Prodigy's ‘Firestarter’ by the scruff of the neck and feeds it into several hundred distortion pedals.’
- ‘When he gets a properly written scene he seizes it by the scruff of the neck and shakes the juices out of it with Doberman ferocity.’
- ‘I wanted to grab her by the scruff of her fluffy bunny neck.’
- ‘Plus, any band who produce We Care A Lot, a brutally fun hymn for the apathy generation is bound to grab any world-weary fifteen year old by the scruff of the neck.’
- ‘The latter song further displayed M.E's new found audience sympathy by dragging a bouncer from the mosh pit by the scruff of his neck for starting on a fan who'd been getting a bit carried away.’
- ‘For most of the journey I pretended to sleep, feeling the accusatory stares of passers-by, ready to grab me by the scruff of the neck and spontaneously demand a ticket inspection.’
- ‘This is the type of album that grabs you by the scruff of the neck, shakes you about a lot, and never once lets up on the fury which drives it.’
- ‘Yet they possess a rare spirit which allows them to grasp life by the scruff of its neck and cope with whatever it throws in the face.’
- ‘This album grabs you by the scruff of the neck and demands your attention.’
- ‘Again and again Oney grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck, both through his dexterity with details and through the horror of the downward spiral of the case itself.’
- ‘If you were lucky enough to see him perform on stage, you always had the feeling he might suddenly leap into the audience, grab you by the scruff of the neck and haul you up onstage to drink ouzo and dance with him.’
- ‘Finally Anton held her up by the scruff of her neck and she drew her limbs in, responding to some kitten memory of being carried that way by her mother.’
- ‘As Alfonso Cuaron took Hogwarts by the scruff of the neck and transformed Prisoner of Azkaban into a film worthy of its medium and not just its source, so Mike Newell takes the series one step further.’
- ‘Late Beethoven tends to take fugues by the scruff of the neck and shake them till they howl.’
- ‘But there was little sense of any acts, or group of acts, collectively seizing 2004 by the scruff of its neck - as the brilliant Garry Mulholland points out in this issue in our definitive review of 2004.’
- ‘The orchestral introduction grips us by the scruff of the neck in the venom with which it makes hunting and stalking aurally incarnate.’
- ‘SAC has never taken the Fringe by the scruff of its neck and said, ‘How can we use it for our own purposes?’’
- ‘But then again, some of these same people will probably mention Sviatoslav Richter's famous recording, a benchmark for the Mussorgsky for years - and that certainly reaches out and grabs you by the scruff of the neck.’
Grasp (an animal) by the scruff of its neck.
- ‘Do you have any idea what it feels like to be seized, scruffed, taken like an animal when you're in heat and feeling like one anyhow?’
Late 18th century: alteration of dialect scuff, of obscure origin.
1British A person with a dirty or untidy appearance.
2mass noun Short, bristly hairs growing on a man's face when he has not shaved for a while; stubble.‘several days' worth of scruff’
Early 16th century (in the sense ‘scurf’): variant of scurf. The word came to mean ‘worthless thing’, whence scruff (sense 1) (mid 19th century).
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