• skerrick •
sker-rik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A very small bit, a tiny fragment or amount.
Notes: Today's Good Word is unknown in the US, and known but not commonly used in the northern UK, Australia, and New Zealand, probably because it is longer than bit. It is a slang word, so even Aussies probably wouldn't use it on job interviews. It is an absolute lexical orphan: no derivational relations.
In Play: Resist the temptation to say to someone whose intellect strikes you as challenged, "You don't have a skerrick of sense." They can easily interpret that as an insult. Rather, say, "You have a skerrick of sense." That way, unless they are from Northern Britain or Australia, your co-conversationalist will not know whether your sentiment is insulting or complimentary, and you will come within a skerrick of what you really think.
Word History: Etymologists can only guess where this word comes from. The Collins Dictionary thinks it is of Scandinavian origin, but it doesn't say why it believes that. The grand old Oxford English Dictionary thinks it may have referred to a half penny at one time. That leads it to opine that today's Good Word is related to scuddick, an even rarer word that does mean "half-penny." No one knows where scuddick came from, either. If you know of any clues, Dr. Goodword will be happy to follow them up. (We should now show more than a skerrick of gratitude to David Meyer for suggesting today's Good if rare Word.)
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