Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Feb 21 12:07:10 UTC 2003

>A slut is a girl you don't take home to mom.
>A skank is a girl you don't take home to your fraternity brothers.

My first understanding (around 1970?) of "skank" was as an exact synonym of
(and presumably an alteration of) "skag", meaning roughly "ugly/repulsive
woman" ... or perhaps "woman whom the speaker doesn't like". Sexual
promiscuity was not necessarily implied, in my (not necessarily
representative) experience; in fact one might assume a lack of sexual
experience in one so very unattractive, I suppose. The word "skank" might
reflect "skag" + "rank" [adjective] or + "skunk", I guess. I believe that
whorishness (as one of many possible repulsive characteristics) may have
been attached later mostly.

My own tentative/speculative etymology for "skag" (early 20th century)
would derive it from "scrag", along with the other "skag" = "cigarette
butt". The sense would have been "bony unattractive animal" and indeed ca.
1960 it seems to me a "skag" was likely to be a thinnish ugly woman (as
opposed to "pig" = fattish ugly woman).

"Skanking" as a dance form may be unrelated. I don't know much about this
but maybe the word is related to "ska"?

-- Doug Wilson

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