What is the origin of scrimp?
Scrimp “to be sparing or frugal” is likely a borrowing from a Scandinavian language such as Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish, all of which descend from Old Norse. Both English and Old Norse are Germanic languages, but despite their close relationship, they diverged about 2,000 years ago, and this time apart resulted in many sound changes. Two common changes were the shifts from k to ch and from sk to sh, which happened in English but not in Scandinavian languages. This means that, when the Vikings invaded Great Britain and many Old Norse words entered English, English terms had to compete with their Norse cognates, resulting in church and kirk, shirt and skirt, and sharp and scrape. Though it entered English centuries after the Viking invasion, the Scandinavian word scrimp was originally a cognate of the English word shrimp; both derived from a Germanic verb meaning “to contract, shrink,” and while shrimp continued to refer to physical size, scrimp shifted to refer to money. Scrimp was first recorded in English in the early 1700s.