He grabbed his unruly kid by the scruff of the neck, and took him home.
Origin of scruff
- Alteration of dialectal scuft, scuff
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- 1790, from earlier (1787) scuft, influenced by scruff (“crust"). Related to North Frisian skuft (“back of the neck of a horse") and Dutch schoft (“withers (of a horse)"), from Proto-Germanic. Compare also Old Norse skopt (“hair of the head"), Gothic ðƒðŒºðŒ¿ð†ð„ (skuft, “hair of the head"), Middle High German schopf (German Schopf).