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1930s & Earlier / Scofflaw - Prize-Winning Prohibition Word
During America's Prohibition years, violations of the Volstead Act (which outlawed the sale, transportation, and manufacture of alcoholic beverages) were widespread. In 1924, an ardent Massachusetts prohibitionist named Delcevare King offered a $200 prize to anyone who could create a new word that would heap shame the lawless drinkers and those who enabled them. Two entrants--both from Massachusetts--named Henry Dale and Kate Butler each came up with the same winning word: scofflaw. It was clever a combination of the verb scoff (meaning to mock, deride or ridicule) and, of course, law. Dale and Butler split the $200 prize. The word did catch on and, over the years, scofflaw has expanded its meaning to encompass those who willfully break any law--not just liquor statutes.