- skald (n.)
- "Scandinavian poet and singer of medieval times," 1763, from Old Norse skald "skald, poet" (9c.), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *sekw- (3) "to say, utter." The modern word is an antiquarian revival. "Usually applied to Norwegian and Icelandic poets of the Viking period and down to c 1250, but often without any clear idea as to their function and the character of their work" [OED]. Related: Scaldic.
- skank (n.)
- "unattractive woman," 1965, perhaps from skag in this sense (1920s), of unknown origin. Verbal meaning "dance to reggae music" is 1976, probably not the same word, but also of unknown origin. Related: Skanking.
- skanky (adj.)
- "ugly, unattractive" (originally of women), by 1965, U.S. Black slang; see skank.
- skat (n.)
- card game, 1864, from German Skat (by 1838), from earlier scart (said to have been a term used in the old card game called taroc, which was of Italian origin), from Italian scarto "cards laid aside," which is said to be a back-formation from scartare, from Latin ex- "off, away" + Late Latin carta (see card (n.1)). The German game is perhaps so called because it is played with a rump deck, or because two cards are laid aside at the start of the game, or because discarding is an important part of the game. Compare French card game écarté, literally "cards removed."
- skate (n.1)
- "type of flat, cartilaginous fish, a kind of ray," mid-14c., from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skata "skate," Danish skade, Faeroese skøta, of unknown origin.
- skate (n.2)
- "ice skate," 1660s, skeates "ice skates," from Dutch schaats (plural schaatsen), a singular mistaken in English for plural, from Middle Dutch schaetse. The word and the custom were brought to England after the Restoration by exiled followers of Charles II who had taken refuge in Holland.
The Dutch word is from Old North French escache "a stilt, trestle," related to Old French eschace "stilt" (French échasse), from Frankish *skakkja "stilt" or a similar Germanic source (compare Frisian skatja "stilt"), perhaps literally "thing that shakes or moves fast" and related to root of Old English sceacan "to vibrate" (see shake (v.)). Or perhaps [Klein] the Dutch word is connected to Middle Low German schenke, Old English scanca "leg" (see shank). Sense alteration in Dutch from "stilt" to "skate" is not clearly traced. Sense in English extended to roller-skates by 1876. Meaning "an act of skating" is from 1853.
- skate (v.)
- 1690s, "to ice-skate," from skate (n.2). U.S. slang sense of "to get away with something" is attested from 1945. Related: Skated; skating.
- 1964, noun and verb, from skate (v.) on model of surfboard. The phenomenon began c.1963 in southern California and was nationwide the following summer.
Skateboarding requires only a tapered piece of wood flexibly mounted on roller-skate wheels and a stretch of pavement -- preferably downhill and away from traffic. ["Life," June 5, 1964]
- skater (n.)
- 1700, "one who ice-skates," agent noun from skate (v.). Extended to skateboarders by 1977.
- sked (n.)
- short for schedule, student slang from 1929.
- skedaddle (v.)
- "to run away," 1861, American Civil War military slang, of unknown origin, perhaps connected to earlier use in northern England dialect with a meaning "to spill." Liberman says it "has no connection with any word of Greek, Irish, or Swedish, and it is not a blend" [contra De Vere]. He calls it instead an "enlargement of dial. scaddle 'scare, frighten.'" Related: Skedaddled; skedaddling. As a noun from 1870.
- Skee-Ball (n.)
- 1909, proprietary name (Skee-Ball Alley Company, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.), the first element said to represent the old alternative spelling of ski (v.).
Skee ball bowling, in which the ball is jumped or skeed into the pockets in the same manner as a skee-jumper rises from the bump in his flight, is a new and unique hand-ball game that seems destined to great popularity. ["Popular Mechanics," July 1909]
- skeet (n.)
- form of trapshooting, 1926, a name chosen as "a very old form of our present word 'shoot.' " Perhaps Old Norse skotja "to shoot" (see shoot (v.)) was intended.
- skeeter (n.)
- colloquial shortening of mosquito, 1839, American English.
- skeezicks (n.)
- 1850, "rascal, rogue," of unknown origin, perhaps a fanciful formation. In early 20c. used affectionately or playfully of children.
- skein (n.)
- "fixed quantity of yarn doubled over and over and knotted, mid-15c., from Middle French escaigne "a hank of yarn" (Old French escagne, mid-14c., Modern French écagne), of uncertain origin. Compare Medieval Latin scagna "a skein," Irish sgainne "a skein, clue."
- skeletal (adj.)
- 1849, from skeleton + -al (1). Related: Skeletally.
- skeleton (n.)
- 1570s, from Modern Latin sceleton "bones, bony framework of the body," from Greek skeleton soma "dried-up body, mummy, skeleton," from neuter of skeletos "dried-up" (also, as a noun, "dried body, mummy"), from skellein "dry up, make dry, parch," from PIE root *skele- "to parch, wither" (see sclero-).
Skelton was an early variant form. The noun use of Greek skeletos passed into Late Latin (sceletus), hence French squelette and rare English skelet (1560s), Spanish esqueleto, Italian scheletro. The meaning "bare outline" is first recorded c.1600; hence skeleton crew (1778), skeleton key, etc. Phrase skeleton in the closet "source of secret shame to a person or family" is from 1812.
- skelm (n.)
- also skellum, "a rascal, scamp, scoundrel," 1610s, from Dutch schelm, from German schelm "rascal, devil, pestilence, etc.," from Old High German scelmo. Used by Dryden, but "Now arch. (except in S.Africa)" [OED].
- skene (n.)
- ancient type of Celtic dagger found in Ireland, double-edged and leaf-like, 1520s, from Irish Gaelic scian (genitive sceine) "knife," cognate with Gaelic sgian "knife," Welsh ysgien "a slicer," from PIE *skiy-ena-, from root *skei- "to divide, split" (see shed (v.)).
- skep (n.)
- quantity measure for grain, etc.; basket, grain receptacle, c.1100, from Old Norse skeppa "basket, bushel." Related: Skepful.
- skeptic (n.)
- also sceptic, 1580s, "member of an ancient Greek school that doubted the possibility of real knowledge," from Middle French sceptique and directly from Latin scepticus "the sect of the Skeptics," from Greek skeptikos (plural Skeptikoi "the Skeptics, followers of Pyrrho"), noun use of adjective meaning "inquiring, reflective" (the name taken by the disciples of the Greek philosopher Pyrrho, who lived c.360-c.270 B.C.E.), related to skeptesthai "to reflect, look, view" (see scope (n.1)).
Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found. [Miguel de Unamuno, "Essays and Soliloquies," 1924]
The extended sense of "one with a doubting attitude" first recorded 1610s. The sk- spelling is an early 17c. Greek revival and is preferred in U.S. As a verb, scepticize (1690s) failed to catch on.
- skeptical (adj.)
- also sceptical, 1630s; see skeptic + -al (1). Related: Skeptically.
- skepticism (n.)
- also scepticism, 1640s, from skeptic + -ism. Specifically regarding Christian religion, from 1800.
- skerry (n.)
- "isolated rock in the sea," 1610s, from Old Norse sker, related to skera "to cut off" (see shear (v.)).
- sketch (n.)
- "rough drawing intended to serve as the basis for a finished picture," 1660s, from Dutch schets or Low German skizze, both apparently 17c. artists' borrowings from Italian schizzo "sketch, drawing," which is commonly said to be from Latin *schedius (OED compares schedia "raft," schedium "an extemporaneous poem"), from or related to Greek skhedios "temporary, extemporaneous, done or made off-hand," related to skhema "form, shape, appearance" (see scheme (n.)). But according to Barnhart Italian schizzo is a special use of schizzo "a splash, squirt," from schizzare "to splash or squirt," of uncertain origin.
Extended sense of "brief account" is from 1660s; meaning "short play or performance, usually comic" is from 1789. Sketch-book recorded from 1820. German Skizze, French esquisse, Spanish esquicio are likewise from Italian schizzo.
- sketch (v.)
- 1690s, "present the essential facts of," from sketch (n.). Meaning "draw, portray in outline and partial shading" is from 1725. Related: Sketched; sketcher; sketching.
- sketchy (adj.)
- 1805, "having the form or character of a sketch," from sketch (n.) + -y (2). Colloquial sense of "unsubstantial, imperfect, flimsy" is from 1878, perhaps via the notion of "unfinished." Related: Sketchily; sketchiness.
- skew (v.)
- late 15c., "to turn aside" (intransitive), from Old North French eskiuer "shy away from, avoid," Old French eschiver (see eschew). Transitive sense of "turn (something) aside" is from 1570s. Meaning "depict unfairly" first recorded 1872, on notion of being "give oblique direction to," hence "to distort, to make slant." Statistical sense dates from 1929. Related: Skewed; skewing. The adjectival meaning "slanting, turned to one side" is recorded from c.1600, from the verb; noun meaning "slant, deviation" first attested 1680s.
- skewbald (adj.)
- 1650s, "having white and brown (or some other color) patches, spotted in an irregular manner" (used especially of horses), from skued "skewbald" (mid-15c.), of unknown origin, + bald "having white patches" (see bald). First element said to be unconnected with skew (v.) (but Klein's sources say it is); OED suggests perhaps from Old French escu "shield," but also notes a close resemblance in form and sense with Icelandic skjottr, "the history of which is equally obscure." Watkins says it is Scandinavian and akin to Old Norse sky "cloud" on the resemblance of the markings to cloud cover.
When the white is mixed with black it is called 'pie-bald,' with bay the name of 'skew-bald' is given to it. ["Youatt's 'The Horse,' " 1866]
As a noun meaning "skewbald horse" from 1863.
- skewer (n.)
- 1670s, variant of dialectal skiver (1660s), perhaps from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skifa "a cut, slice" (of bread, etc.), Swedish skifer "a slate," which are related to shiver (n.1) "small piece."
- skewer (v.)
- 1701, from the noun. Related: Skewered; skewering.
- skewness (n.)
- 1877, from skew + -ness.
- ski (n.)
- 1883 (there is an isolated instance from 1755; in early use often spelled skee), from Norwegian ski, related to Old Norse skið "long snowshoe," literally "stick of wood, firewood," cognate with Old English scid "stick of wood," obsolete English shide "piece of wood split off from timber;" Old High German skit, German Scheit "log," from Proto-Germanic *skid- "to divide, split," from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split" (see shed (v.)). Ski-jumper is from 1894; ski bum first attested 1960; ski-mask is from 1963; noted as part of criminal disguises from 1968.
- ski (v.)
- 1885, from ski (n.). Related: Skied; skiing.
- Ski-doo (n.)
- proprietary name of a type of snowmobile, 1961, from ski.
- skid (n.)
- c.1600, "beam or plank on which something rests," especially on which something heavy can be rolled from place to place (1782), of uncertain origin, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse skið "stick of wood" (see ski (n.)). As "a sliding along" from 1890; specifically of motor vehicles from 1903. Skid-mark is from 1914.
In the timber regions of the American West, skids laid down one after another to form a road were "a poor thing for pleasure walks, but admirably adapted for hauling logs on the ground with a minimum of friction" ["Out West" magazine, October 1903]. A skid as something used to facilitate downhill motion led to figurative phrases such as hit the skids "go into rapid decline" (1909), and see skid row.
- skid (v.)
- 1670s, "apply a skid to (a wheel, to keep it from turning)," from skid (n.). Meaning "slide along" first recorded 1838; extended sense of "slip sideways" (on a wet road, etc.) first recorded 1884. The original notion is of a block of wood for stopping a wheel; the modern senses are from the notion of a wheel slipping when blocked from revolving.
- skid row (n.)
- place where vagabonds, low-lifes, and out-of-work men gather in a town, 1921, with reference to Seattle, Washington, U.S., a variant of skid road "track of skids along which logs are rolled" (1851); see skid (n.); the sense of which was extended to "part of town inhabited by loggers" (1906), then, by hobos, to "disreputable district" (1915); probably shaded by the notion of "go downhill."
- skidoo (v.)
- a vogue word of 1905, "to leave in a hurry," perhaps a variant of skedaddle (q.v.). The association with twenty-three is as old as the word, but the exact connection is obscure.
Then skidoo, little girl, skidoo.
23 is the number for you.
- skier (n.)
- 1895, agent noun from ski (v.).
- skiff (n.)
- "small boat," 1570s, from French esquif (1540s), from Italian schifo "little boat," from a Germanic source (such as Old High German scif "boat;" see ship (n.)). Originally the small boat of a ship.
- skiffle (n.)
- style of U.K. pop music, 1957, from U.S. slang meaning "type of jazz played on improvised instruments" (1926), of unknown origin.
- skiing (n.)
- 1885, verbal noun from ski (v.).
THE new sport which has lately been introduced at Beloit is skeeing. They are long ash planks, carefully and turned up at the end, and are warranted to take down hill quicker than a wink. After some practice performers become very expert, and the speed with which they go is something surprising. [Beloit College, Wisconsin, "Round Table," Dec. 18, 1885]
- skill (n.)
- late 12c., "power of discernment," from Old Norse skil "distinction, ability to make out, discernment, adjustment," related to skilja (v.) "to separate; discern, understand," from Proto-Germanic *skaljo- "divide, separate" (cognates: Swedish skäl "reason," Danish skjel "a separation, boundary, limit," Middle Low German schillen "to differ," Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schele "separation, discrimination;" see shell (n.)). Sense of "ability, cleverness" first recorded early 13c.
- skilled (adj.)
- 1550s, past participle adjective from skill (v.) "to have personal and practical knowledge" (c.1200), from Old Norse skilja "separate, part, divide; break off, break up; part company, take leave; discern, distinguish; understand, find out; decide, settle," from the source of skill (n.).
- skillet (n.)
- c.1400, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Middle French esculette "a little dish" (Modern French écuelle), diminutive of escuele "plate," from Latin scutella "serving platter" (see scuttle (n.)); or formed in English from skele "wooden bucket or pail" (early 14c.), from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skjola "pail, bucket."
- skillful (adj.)
- also skilful, early 14c., from skill + -ful. Related: Skillfully; skilfully.
- skim (v.)
- early 15c. (skimmer, the utensil, is attested from late 14c.), "to clear (a liquid) from matter floating on the surface, lift the scum from," from Old French escumer "remove scum," from escume (Modern French écume) "scum," from a Germanic source (compare Old High German scum "scum," German Schaum; see scum). Meaning "to throw (a stone) so as to skip across the surface of (water) is from 1610s. Meaning "to move lightly and rapidly over the surface of" is from 1650s, from the motion involved in skimming liquid; that of "to glance over carelessly" (in reference to printed matter) recorded by 1799. Related: Skimmed; skimming.
- skim-milk (n.)
- milk from which the cream has been skimmed, 1590s, from skim (v.) + milk (n.).