A ‘scallywag’ is a loveable rogue, naughty but too cute to punish.
The word’s origins are not certain but most likely it comes from the town of ‘Scalloway’ in the Shetland island, the name Scalloway is old Norse for ‘bay with the large houses’. The Shetland islands are the home of Shetland ponies – which, although wonderful animals, are smaller than average horses and would have performed less well at many of the tasks expected of horses at the time. The term was used to describe ‘small and feeble animals’. In the early 20th century ‘scallywag’ was used as a slur against union activists to imply that they were lazy or not very good at that jobs. From there though, it started to have a gentler meaning, someone who isn’t good but you can’t help but feel kindness too.