[Ads-l] Skedaddle, skedaddling (incremental antedating to 1858?; 1859)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 17 05:27:49 UTC 2021

In October 1862 "Notes and Queries" printed an elaborate claim about
the provenance of "skedaddle". Oddly, I was unable to find supporting
citations for the claim in The British Newspaper Archive. Perhaps
there is an alternative spelling for "skedaddle" that I missed. The
"Notes and Queries" index uses the label provincialism. So maybe it
did not appear in newspapers.

Date: October 25, 1862
Periodical: Notes and Queries
Quote Page 326, Column 2

[Begin excerpt - double-check for errors]
SKEDADDLE--The following Note, sent by Lord
Hill to The Times (Monday, Oct. 13, 1862, p. 10,
col. 3), shows that one Americanism at least is of
British origin:--

"To the Editor of 'The Times.'"

"Sir,--Your correspondent, in an article upon the American
war, tells the public that the war has brought to
the surface, and added to the American vocabulary, a
new word viz. 'skedaddle.'

"My object in writing this note is to correct the above
error. Skedaddle is a word commonly used in Dumfries-shire,
my native home. To skedaddle, means to spill in
small quantities any liquids. For instance, a person
carrying two pails of milk,--jabbling and spilling the milk
right and left--would be skedaddling the milk. An
interested observer would cry at once: 'You blind buzzard,
don't you see you are skedaddling all that milk!' The
same word applies to coals, potatoes, or apples, and other
substances falling from a cart in travelling from one place
to another. But skedaddle does not apply to bodies of
men scattered, under any circumstances, either in peace
or in war. The Americans totally misapply the word.

"It is not their invention, of that you may rest perfectly
Yours faithfully,
"Dartford, Oct 9. Hill"
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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