Printable Version
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 However, this pronunciation today is a bit silly since it implies an outdated southwestern rural accent. Skedaddle is a lexical orphan; no one has dared create a derivation of this vocabulary eccentricity.

In Play: Remember that this word is not only slang, but a peculiar regional slang word at that. You would be more likely to hear this down south in the US: "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 the verb go, this verb is intransitive, which means you cannot skedaddle anything, not even a cowboy: "The fox skedaddled out of the henhouse when cowboy Bob came in to gather the eggs."

Word History: This US lexical peculiarity arose during the Civil War. It is a playful distortion of scuttle, which meant "to run away hastily". The earlier form of this word 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", given English similes like "quick as a rabbit" and "run like a rabbit". However, it is more probably a variant of an Old Norse word for "shoot" along the lines of Modern Norwegian skudd "shot", or a derivation of a related word in Old English sceotan "to shoot".

Dr. Goodword,

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