skip (v.) Look up skip at
c. 1300, "to spring lightly," also "to jump over," probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skopa "to take a run," Middle Swedish skuppa "to skip, leap," from Proto-Germanic *skupan (source also of Middle Swedish skuppa, dialectal Swedish skopa "to skip, leap"). Related: Skipped; skipping.

Meaning "omit intervening parts" first recorded late 14c. Meaning "fail to attend" is from 1905. Meaning "to cause to skip or bound" is from 1680s. The custom of skipping rope has been traced to 17c.; it was commonly done by boys as well as girls until late 19c.
skip (n.2) Look up skip at
short for skipper (n.1), 1830, originally in sports jargon (curling).
skip (n.1) Look up skip at
"a spring, a bound," early 15c., from skip (v.). Meaning "a passing over or disregarding" is from 1650s.
skipjack (n.) Look up skipjack at
1550s, "a pert shallow-brained fellow; a puppy, a whipper-snapper; a conceited fop or dandy" [OED], from skip (v.) + generic name jack (n.). Applied 1703 to tropical fishes with leaping tendencies. In reference to a kind of sailing boat used on Chesapeake Bay, attested from 1887.
skipper (n.1) Look up skipper at
"captain or master of a ship," late 14c., from Middle Dutch scipper, from scip (see ship (n.)). Compare English shipper, used from late 15c. to 17c. in sense "skipper." Transferred sense of "captain of a sporting team" is from 1830.
skipper (n.2) Look up skipper at
"one who skips," mid-15c., agent noun from skip (v.). As a type of butterfly, 1817, from its manner of flight.
skirl (v.) Look up skirl at
"to make a shrill sound," mid-15c., from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian skyrla, skrella "to shriek"), of imitative origin. In reference to bagpipes, it is attested by 1660s and now rarely used otherwise. As a noun 1510s from the verb.
skirmish (n.) Look up skirmish at
late 14c., from Old French escarmouche "skirmish," from Italian scaramuccia, earlier schermugio, probably from a Germanic source (compare Old High German skirmen "to protect, defend"), with a diminutive or depreciatory suffix, from Proto-Germanic *skerm-, from PIE *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear (v.)).

Influenced in Middle English by a separate verb skirmysshen "to brandish a weapon," from Old French eskirmiss-, stem of eskirmir "to fence," from Frankish *skirmjan, from the same Germanic source. Compare scrimmage. Other modern Germanic forms have an additional diminutive affix: German scharmützel, Dutch schermutseling, Danish skjærmydsel. Skirmish-line attested by 1864.
skirmish (v.) Look up skirmish at
c. 1200, from Old French escarmouchier, from Italian scaramucciare (see skirmish (n.)). Related: Skirmished; skirmishing.
skirt (n.) Look up skirt at
early 14c., "lower part of a woman's dress," from Old Norse skyrta "shirt, a kind of kirtle;" see shirt. Sense development from "shirt" to "skirt" is possibly related to the long shirts of peasant garb (compare Low German cognate Schört, in some dialects "woman's gown"). Sense of "border, edge" (in outskirts, etc.) first recorded late 15c. Metonymic use for "women collectively" is from 1550s; slang sense of "young woman" is from 1906; skirt-chaser first attested 1942.
skirt (v.) Look up skirt at
c. 1600, "to border, form the edge of," from skirt (n.). Meaning "to pass along the edge" is from 1620s. Related: Skirted; skirting.
skit (n.) Look up skit at
"piece of light satire or caricature," 1820, from earlier sense "a satirical remark or reflection" (1727), originally (1570s) "a vain, frivolous, or wanton girl" (originally Scottish, now archaic), related to verb meaning "to shy or be skittish, caper, frolic" (1610s), perhaps from Old Norse skjuta "to shoot, move quickly" (see skittish).
skite (n.) Look up skite at
"contemptible person," 1790, Scottish and Northern, earlier "sudden stroke or blow" (1785), perhaps from Old Norse skyt-, from skjota "to shoot" (see shoot (v.)). Compare Old Norse skita "to shit," which might have had some influence.
skitter (v.) Look up skitter at
"to run rapidly," 1845, frequentative of skite "to dart, run quickly" (1721), perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse skjota "to shoot, launch, move quickly, avoid (a blow);" Norwegian dialectal skutla "glide rapidly"); see skittish. As a noun from 1905.
skittish (adj.) Look up skittish at
early 15c., "very lively, frivolous," perhaps from Scandinavian base *skyt- (stem of Old Norse skjota "to shoot, launch, move quickly"), from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, to chase, to throw, to project" (see shoot (v.)). Sense of "shy, nervous, apt to run" first recorded c. 1500, of horses. Related: Skittishly; skittishness.
skittles (n.) Look up skittles at
game played with nine pins, 1630s, plural of skittle, the word for the pins used in the game, probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish and Norwegian skyttel "shuttle, child's toy"). But OED says there is no evidence of a connection.
skive (v.1) Look up skive at
"split or cut into strips, pare off, grind away," 1825, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skifa "to cut, split," from Proto-Germanic *skif-, from Proto-Indo-European *skei- "to cut, split" (see shed (v.)). Related: Skived; skiving.
skive (v.2) Look up skive at
"evade duty," usually with off, 1919, probably from earlier sense "move lightly and quickly, dart" (1854), of unknown origin. Related: Skived; skiving.
skivvies (n.) Look up skivvies at
"underwear," 1932, nautical slang, of unknown origin. An earlier skivvy/skivey was London slang for "female domestic servant" (1902).
skoal (interj.) Look up skoal at
also skol, Scandinavian toasting word, c. 1600, from Danish skaal "a toast," literally "bowl, cup," from Old Norse skal "bowl, drinking vessel," originally a cup made from a shell, from Proto-Germanic *skelo, from PIE *(s)kel- (1) "to cut" (see shell (n.)). The word first appears in Scottish English, and may have been connected to the visit of James VI of Scotland to Denmark in 1589.
skosh Look up skosh at
"a little bit," Korean War armed forces slang, from Japanese sukoshi "few, little, some."
Skraeling (n.) Look up Skraeling at
1767, Norse name for inhabitants of Greenland encountered by the Viking settlers there, from Old Norse Skræingjar (plural), apparently literally "little men" (compare Icelandic skrælna "shrink"); another term for them was smair menn. The name may have been used first in reference to the inhabitants of Vineland (who would have been Indians), then transferred to Eskimos, who adopted it into their own language as Kalaleq.
Hans Egede, who published a dictionary of Greenland Eskimo in 1739, says that the Eskimos themselves told him that they got the name from the Norsemen who once lived in Greenland. [Gordon, p.217-8]
sku (n.) Look up sku at
by 1974, acronym from stock-keeping unit.
skua (n.) Look up skua at
type of predatory gull, 1670s, from Faeroese skugvur, related to Old Norse skufr "seagull, tuft, tassel," and possibly to skauf "fox's tail."
skulduddery (n.) Look up skulduddery at
also sculduddery, "fornication," 1713; see skulduggery.
skulduggery (n.) Look up skulduggery at
1856, apparently an alteration of Scottish sculdudrie "adultery" (1713), sculduddery "bawdry, obscenity" (1821), a euphemism of uncertain origin.
skulk (v.) Look up skulk at
c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source such as Norwegian skulke "to shirk, malinger," Danish skulke "to spare oneself, shirk," Swedish skolka "to shirk, skulk, slink, play truant." Common in Middle English but lacking in 15c.-16c. records; possibly reborrowed 17c. Related: Skulked; skulking; skulker; skulkery.
skull (n.) Look up skull at
"bony framework of the head," c. 1200, probably from Old Norse skalli "a bald head, skull," a general Scandinavian word (compare Swedish skulle, Norwegian skult), probably related to Old English scealu "husk" (see shell (n.)). But early prominence in southwestern texts suggests rather origin from a Dutch or Low German cognate (such as Dutch schol "turf, piece of ice," but the sense of "head bone framework" is wanting). Derivation from Old French escuelle seems unlikely on grounds of sound and sense. Old English words for skull include heafod-bolla.
skull-cap (n.) Look up skull-cap at
1680s, from skull (n.) + cap (n.).
skunk (n.) Look up skunk at
1630s, squunck, from a southern New England Algonquian language (probably Abenaki) seganku, from Proto-Algonquian */šeka:kwa/, from */šek-/ "to urinate" + */-a:kw/ "fox." As an insult, attested from 1841. Skunk cabbage is attested from 1751; earlier skunkweed (1738).
skunk (v.) Look up skunk at
"to completely defeat (in a game), to shut out from scoring," 1831, from skunk (n.). Related: Skunked; skunking.
sky (n.) Look up sky at
c. 1200, "a cloud," from Old Norse sky "cloud," from Proto-Germanic *skeujam "cloud, cloud cover" (source also of Old English sceo, Old Saxon scio "cloud, region of the clouds, sky;" Old High German scuwo, Old English scua, Old Norse skuggi "shadow;" Gothic skuggwa "mirror"), from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).

Meaning "upper regions of the air" is attested from c. 1300; replaced native heofon in this sense (see heaven). In Middle English, the word can still mean both "cloud" and "heaven," as still in the skies, originally "the clouds." Sky-high is from 1812; phrase the sky's the limit is attested from 1908. Sky-dive first recorded 1965; sky-writing is from 1922.
sky (v.) Look up sky at
"to raise or throw toward the skies," 1802, from sky (n.).
skyclad (adj.) Look up skyclad at
also sky-clad, "naked," 1909, from sky (n.) + clad. Perhaps translating Sanskrit digam-bara "having the four quarters for clothing."
skyhook (n.) Look up skyhook at
also sky-hook, "imaginary device to hold things up," 1915, originally aviators' jargon, from sky (n.) + hook (n.). Applied from 1935 to actual device for lifting things into the air.
skyjack (v.) Look up skyjack at
"to hijack an airplane," 1961, apparently coined in New York "Mirror" headlines, from sky (n.) + second element of hijack (q.v.).
Skylab (n.) Look up Skylab at
name of a U.S. space program, first attested 1970, launched 1973, fell to earth 1979. From sky (n.) + lab (n.).
skylark (n.) Look up skylark at
the common European lark, 1680s, from sky (n.) + lark (n.1). So called because it sings as it mounts toward the sky in flight.
skylark (v.) Look up skylark at
"to frolic or play," 1809, originally nautical, in reference to "wanton play about the rigging, and tops," probably from skylark (n.), influenced by (or from) lark (n.2). Related: Skylarked; skylarking.
skylight (n.) Look up skylight at
1670s, "light from the sky," from sky (n.) + light (n.). Meaning "small opening in a roof to admit light" is recorded from 1680s. Related: Sky-lit.
skyline (n.) Look up skyline at
"horizon," 1824, from sky (n.) + line (n.).
skyrocket (n.) Look up skyrocket at
1680s, type of firework, from sky (n.) + rocket (n.2). The verb, in the figurative sense of "to rise abruptly and rapidly" (often with suggestion of 'and then explode and vanish'") is attested from 1895.
skyscraper (n.) Look up skyscraper at
very tall urban building, 1888, in a Chicago context, from sky (n.) + agent noun of scrape (v.). Used earlier for "ornament atop a building" (1883), "very tall man" (1857), "high-flying bird" (1840), "light sail at the top of a mast" (1794), and the name of a racehorse (1789). Compare cognate French gratte-ciel, from gratter "to scrape" + ciel "sky;" German Wolkenkratzer, from Wolke "cloud" + Kratzer "scraper."
cloud-cleaver, an imaginary sail jokingly assumed to be carried by Yankee ships. [W. Clark Russell, "Sailors' Word Book," 1883]
slab (n.) Look up slab at
late 13c., "large, flat mass," of unknown origin, possibly related to Old French escopel, escalpe "thin fragment of wood," which according to Klein is possibly a Gaulish word (compare Breton scolp, Welsh ysgolp "splinter, chip"). But OED rejects this on formal grounds. Meaning "rectangular block of pre-cast concrete used in building" is from 1927. Slab-sided is "having flat sides like slabs," hence "tall and lank" (1817, American English).
slack (n.1) Look up slack at
early 14c., "cessation" (of pain, grief, etc.), from slack (adj.). Meaning "a cessation of flow in a current or tide" is from 1756; that of "still stretch of a river" is from 1825. Meaning "loose part or end" (of a rope, sail, etc.) is from 1794; hence figurative senses in take up the slack (1930 figuratively) and slang cut (someone) some slack (1968). Meaning "quiet period, lull" is from 1851. Slacks "loose trousers" first recorded 1824, originally military.
slack (adj.) Look up slack at
Old English slæc "remiss, lax, characterized by lack of energy, sluggish, indolent, languid; slow, gentle, easy," from Proto-Germanic *slakas (source also of Old Saxon slak, Old Norse slakr, Old High German slah "slack," Middle Dutch lac "fault, lack"), from PIE root *(s)leg- "to be slack" (see lax).

Sense of "not tight" (in reference to things) is first recorded c. 1300. As an adverb from late 14c. Slack-key (1975) translates Hawaiian ki ho'alu. Slack water (n.) "time when tide is not flowing" is from 1769. Slack-handed "remiss" is from 1670s. Slack-baked "baked imperfectly, half-baked" is from 1823; figuratively from 1840.
slack (n.2) Look up slack at
"coal dust," mid-15c., sleck, of uncertain origin, probably related to Middle Dutch slacke, Middle Low German slecke "slag, small pieces left after coal is screened," perhaps related to slagge "splinter flying off metal when it is struck" (see slag (n.)).
slack (v.) Look up slack at
1510s, "to moderate, make slack," back-formed from slack (adj.) after the original verb veered into the specialized sense of slake. Meaning "be remiss, inactive or idle, fail to exert oneself" is attested from 1540s; current use is probably a re-coining from c. 1904 (see slacker, and compare Old English slacful "lazy," sleacmodnes "laziness"). Related: Slacked; slacking.
slack-jawed (adj.) Look up slack-jawed at
1882, "over-talkative," from slack-jaw (n.) "impertinent language" (1797), from slack (adj.) + jaw (n.). Meaning "open-mouthed and speechless" from astonishment, stupidity, etc., is from 1905.
slacken (v.) Look up slacken at
early 15c., from slack (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Slackened; slackening.