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

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 17 15:51:47 UTC 2021

I was browsing the McGregor newspaper to see some local history of my 
nearby hometown, which is mentioned frequently in that paper.

I ran across a word that might, maybe, could be related?  The word is 
"scud," used at least regionally, apparently to mean leave, leave in a 
hurry, or move quickly - like scoot.  "Scud" is used as a past tense.  
Searching is difficult because most of the search results are for 
"send," and many other results are from the more conventional sense of 

"Scud" appears to have a more common usage elsewhere, as a nautical term 
with sailboats "scudding" in the wind, a yacht named "Scud," and as a 
weather term for certain kinds of "scud" clouds.

But at least regionally along the upper Mississippi, it appears to have 
been used where "skedaddle" might later have been used, and I can 
imagine someone elaborating on "scud" and adding "scud-addled" to be 
funny.  No smoking gun, but a possibility?

The one example I found is also from Mcgregor, Iowa.

"A steamboat man came on shore the other day, enquired for 'Big Andy,' 
took a look at him and scud instantly for the water!"
The North Iowa Times (Mcgregor, Iowa), June 13, 1860, page 2.

I found two other examples of "scud" as walking, but they do not seem to 
be perfect matches.  In each case, they used a nautical term, "to scud 
under bare poles," as a metaphor for how women walking with their 
dresses gathered close to the body.  "To scud under bare poles" 
apparently refers to a sailing ship at sea, under the effects of wind 
and current, with their sails down - the masts, or poles, bare.

One example, women gather up their clothing to walk home in the rain 
(well, they thought it was raining).

"The scamps got a few pails of water, and wet the stairs and sidewalk 
with a thorough drenching, and stood all around the doorway with their 
umbrellas wide spread; which ominous sight was taken by the young ladies 
and their beaux as they came down stairs as a pretty good sign of rain 
overhead.  It is said that the girls pulled out their handkerchiefs and 
covered up their bonnets, and gathered their silks, lawns and dimity, in 
their hands, and thus close reefed, under bare poles began to scud 
towards home."
Racine Journal (Racine, Wisconsin), June 8, 1859, page 3.

Another example refers to women post-hoop skirt as "scudding along under 
bare poles."

"We notice that hoops are rapidly disappearing before fashion's 
imperious mandate, and our belles who a few months since were sailing 
along East Water Street like half inflated balloons, now scud along 
under bare poles, looking like dismantled vessels."
North Iowa Times (Mcgregor, Iowa), March 21, 1860, page 1 (apparently a 
reprint of an article from the Milwaukee Free Democrat about the end of 
hoop skirt-fashion).

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 3:23 PM Bonnie Taylor-Blake 
<b.taylorblake at gmail.com>

"Skedaddle" and variants have come up on the list before, with John 
pushing this back to December, 1859. See his post and follow-ups:
(BTW, OED still shows as its earliest example one from 1861.)

1) Here's something from McGregor, Iowa, in the fall of 1858, which
suggests that a form of "skedaddle" was at least in place there. I'm not
sure what "we will make it 'Skeedaddle'" means in the first text, though
"Skeedaddle" is, according to the second, clearly a nickname for someone
named Harrington. So, "we will make it 'Skeedaddle'" is obviously some 
of wordplay. (I wish "Skeedaddle" here meant "scatter," but does it seem 
imply "appear"?)

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

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