A scalawag is a lying, no-good rascal. Scalawags are not to be trusted, but sometimes they’re a little bit cute. A scalawag would take the cookies right off your plate!
This funny, old-fashioned word refers to people who are deceitful and untrustworthy. Scalawags are up to no good. Someone who steals your wallet or lies to your face is a scalawag. Scalawags play tricks and break laws, but they don’t do serious crimes. In U.S. history, scalawag has a more specific meaning: it refers to white Southerners who, after the American Civil War, supported the policies of Reconstruction that dismantled the Confederacy and granted citizenship to formerly enslaved people.