One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A method of execution said to have been practised by the ancient Persians, in which the victim was secured within a small enclosed space, such as that formed by the cavities of two small boats placed together, so that only the head and other extremities protruded, and was left to die.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Eunapius' Lyves of Philosophers. From post-classical Latin scaphismus from classical Latin scapha boat ( scapho-) + -ismus.
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