Twenty-three skiddoo

Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Fri Feb 20 17:12:50 UTC 2004

> A prevalent spelling in the early days apparently was "skidoo". The
> expression (with or without the number) seems to have popped up rather
> suddenly in early 1906. My impression is that "skidoo" resembled
> "scoot" more than "skedaddle".

The newspaper evidence is that the word, in either spelling, suddenly
appears in 1906 and instantly becomes very common. It is more common
for "skidoo" to be used without "23" than is "skiddoo". Some of the
early citations seem to imply it is derived from "skid". The examples
I quoted imply that "skiddoo" means the same thing as "23". Did "23"
already commonly have the meaning of "go away" in 1906?

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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