• skedaddle •
Pronunciation: skê-dæd-êl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: (US humorous slang) To run away very hurriedly, to scoot away rapidly.
Notes: In some areas of the US South, the accent is placed on the initial syllable of this word [skee-dæd-êl]. However, this pronunciation today is facetious, even silly, since it implies an outdated southwestern rural accent. Skedaddle is a lexical orphan; no one has dared create a derivation of this lexical eccentricity.
In Play: Remember that today's Good Word is not only slang, but a peculiar slang word at that; moreover, it bears more than a hint of humor: "The kids all skedaddled when they saw you driving up. I think they thought that, since it is Saturday, you would give them all chores." Like go, today's Good Word is intransitive, which means you cannot skedaddle anything, not even a cowboy: "Let's skedaddle out of here, boys! Here comes the sheriff!"
Word History: This US lexical peculiarity arose during the Civil War. It is a playful distortion of scuttle or scuddle, both of which meant to run away hastily. The earlier form is scuddle, an emphatic form of the rather poetic verb scud, as in clouds scudding along the horizon. Scud may be a variant of scut "rabbit's tail", though this seems a bit far-fetched, even given English similes like "quick as a rabbit" and "run like a rabbit". It is probably a variant of an Old Norse word for shoot, along the lines of Modern Norwegian skudd "shot" or a derivation of an ancestor of Old English sceotan "to shoot".
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