SCOUT (from O. Fr. escouter, mod. ecouter, Lat. auscullare, to listen), a soldier sent out to watch the enemy and bring information of his numbers, movements, whereabouts, etc. The name has also been applied to a particular class of light speedy cruisers in the British navy. After the South African War of 1899-1902, the importance of military scouting received much attention in England in consequence of the prominence given to it by Major-General Baden-Powell, of Mafeking fame. Under the latter's auspices an unofficial attempt to foster the qualities required was made by the institution of the Boy Scouts, a voluntary organization which, starting in 1908, had by 1910 enrolled many hundreds of thousands of boys throughout the United Kingdom, with branches overseas.
Various birds of the auk family, such as the guillemot and the puffin, are known as " scouts." The name is also given colloquially to college servants at Oxford and Harvard Universities. It then answers to the " gyp " of Cambridge, Trinity College, Dublin, and Durham, which has been variously explained as short for " gipsy," as taken from yvfy, vulture, from a supposed reference to a grasping character, or as representing an old word " gippo " (FT.jupeau, tunic), used of a scullion or kitchen servant.
In the above senses, " scout" must be distinguished from the word meaning to flout, or reject with ridicule and scorn, which is derived from the Icel. skiita, taunt, jeer.
In the military sense, see Sir R. S. Baden-Powell, Scouting, and Scouting for Boys. The Boy Scouts' movement in England has official papers in the weekly Scout and monthly Headquarters Gazette.