Scoff or Scarf: British Slang

Take a look at this headline from The Sun:

In America, that words would be scarfs. From Urban Dictionary.

But under scoff:

Has scoff turned from a noun into a verb? Or has the headline writer mistaken the sounds and turned scarfs into scoffs?

“Scoff” is a verb meaning “eat”. It carries a connotation of being somehow “cheeky”, as if you are eating something you are not entitled to.

I haven’t come across it as a noun.

I’ve never heard it used as a noun. It’s very common slang meaning “to eat”.

Scoff is a UK military slang term for food rations as in, ‘Have you eaten your scoff yet?’

Furthermore I’m sure I’ve heard ‘scoff’ being used as a synonym for lunch (or a sandwich, or similar) in the north of England, almost certainly by men who might be described as working class. This recollection goes back a while.

It’s a verb, which has also turned into a noun (probably South African usage). ‘Scarf’ is what you wind round your neck.

I wouldn’t scoff at that usage.

It’s fairly common slang in England - it’s seen as the kind of thing that private schoolboys might use a lot, or soldiers in the military, or cockneys, or the “working class” in general (the Sun is a tabloid which tends to gear itself as appealing to the working class). It’s used much more often as a verb than a noun - using it as a noun would be very unusual, to the point of not making any sense. I think I’ve heard Australians or South Africans use it as a noun but not British people.

Don’t think I’ve ever heard ‘scarf’ used in the same context over here either…

Not sure but I think I’ve heard ‘scoff’ used to meal ‘steal’ particularly as in a quick grab-n-run, somewhat like the above decription of hasty eating

When I was in the US Navy stationed in France several years ago, the going term among shipmates was to “scoff down” a meal or other food. I attributed it to having been sourced from “escoffier”.

More recently I’ve been hearing “scarf” in the US vernacular and can only assume it is a self-perpetuating malapropism of “scoff”.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Online Etymology Dictionary:

Scoff probably doesn’t have a folk etymology like coming from Escoffier.

Thanks, Exap, I will no longer scoff at scarf. But I may have coined a new band name, “Self-perpetuating Malaprops”

Another UK perspective. Specifically north-eastern.
“Scoff” would easily be understood as both verb and noun, “scarf” would have been relatively unusual. I would have thought it was just a mis-spelling or pronunciation of “scoff”

A kiwi perspective:

to scarf would be to pinch or steal - often a food item, but not necessarily.
to scoff would be to eat hastily
scoff would identify items for scoffing, in a (UK) public school sort of way, so occurring in Billy Bunter-ish sort of story (the most recent books I have seen it in would be the Redwall books - the fighting hares have a very upper-classish public school affection and would use scoff and nosh etc)