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

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 17 06:30:45 UTC 2021

A second correspondent wrote to Notes and Queries a couple months later.

I quoted it in my blog post about "skedaddle."

He claimed it could have an Irish origin.


"Now although the Greek [skedao] is undoubtedly the root of the English scatter and scud, the German scheiden, and the Scandinavian equivalents, yet skedaddle, instead of being derived from any of them, is probably Irish.

The Irish sgdad, spelled with a g, as that language has no k, doubtless gave the Greeks their [skedao], and the compound Irish word sgedad ol, all scattered or utterly routed, is the very word skedaddle itself.

An old version of the Irish New Testament contains this passage: “For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be sgedad ol.” The word is probably used in our army by an Irishman, and being looked upon as particularly felicitous, was at once adopted.”

The Historical Magazine, and Notes and Queries, Volume 6, Number 12, December 1862, page 381.

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:27:49 PM
Subject: Re: Skedaddle, skedaddling (incremental antedating to 1858?; 1859)

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Subject:      Re: Skedaddle, skedaddling (incremental antedating to 1858?;

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]


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