Advertisement

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 perhaps 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). If the former, the sense alteration in Dutch from "stilt" to "skate" is not clearly traced. The latter theory perhaps is supported by evidence that the original ice skates, up to medieval times, were leg bones of horse, ox, or deer, strapped to the feet with leather strips.

The sense in English was 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. A modern Latinate word for an ice-skating rink is glaciarium (1876).

Others Are Reading

Advertisement