scupper \SKUHP-er, verb:

1. Informal. to prevent from happening or succeeding; ruin; wreck.
2. Military. to overwhelm; surprise and destroy, disable, or massacre.

But what if Ira had tried to back out, threatening to scupper the entire thing?
— Mark Zuehlke, Hands Like Clouds, 2000
Last summer, Edward DeMarco, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s regulator, scuppered the White House’s plan to write down principal for half a million homeowners who’d fallen behind on payments, listing among his reasons that it would encourage others to stop paying.
— Tad Friend, “Home Economics,” The New Yorker, Feb. 4, 2013

Scupper first entered English as a nautical noun in the late 1400s. The verb senses did not enter English until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


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    I was curious about the noun form, so I looked it up: Scupper, noun: An opening for draining water, as on the side of a...
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