"to move quickly, shoot or fly along with haste," 1530s, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps echoic somehow, or perhaps it is a variant of Middle English scut "rabbit, rabbit's tail," in reference to its movements (see scut (n.1)), but there are phonetic difficulties with that. Perhaps it is rather from a North Sea Germanic source akin to Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schudden "to shake" (see quash). OED is against connection with Danish skyde "shoot, push, shove," Old English sceotan "to shoot." Related: Scudded; scudder; scudding.
Especially nautical, "to run before a gale with little or no sail set" (1580s). As a noun, "act or action of scudding," by c. 1600, from the verb. With many extended senses, such as "small shreds of clouds driven rapidly along under a mass of storm cloud," attested by 1660s. The noun also was the NATO reporting name for a type of Soviet missile introduced in the 1960s.
updated on March 07, 2022