Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply


Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:09 am

<2017 “The hideous crimes committed by the lunatic president of the U.S. are a blatant challenge to the dignity of the supreme leadership of North Korea,’ state-run North Korea newspaper Rodong Simun said. ‘Those who trample on and make a mockery of North Korea’s dignity can never go scot-free.’”—The Week, 1 December>

Where did the “scot” come from in scot-free? I had never thought about it before. Was it some sort of reference to the Scottish people?

scot-free adjective: Completely free from harm, restraint, punishment, or obligation: To go scot-free (also to escape, get off, etc,) <The driver of the car escaped from the accident scot-free. The judge let the defendant off scot-free.> [1200–50; Middle English from Old Norse skattrp tax, treasure; c. OE gescot payment; see SCOT, FREE]

scot noun Historical

1) a payment or charge.

2) one's share of a payment or charge.

3) an assessment or tax.

(Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and The Oxford English Dictionary)

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1740 “She should not, for all the Trouble she has cost you, go away scot-free.”—Pamela by S. Richardson, II. page 34>

<1819 “Do as much for this fellow, and thou shalt pass scot-free.”—Ivanhoe by Scott, I. xi. page 227>

<1954 “But that's barbarous! He gets off scot free and she has to be dragged through the mud.”—Beyond Glass by A, White, I. ii. page 25>

< 2000 “The concept of blood money . . . allows the murderer to go scot free.”—Dawn (Karachi), 16 April, page 12/3>

<2017 “Dinner at home with friends sounds fun. Cheaper than running around town! Don't imagine you will get off entirely scot free as the family are inclined to spend money like water.”—The Mirror (London), 25 November>


Ken Greenwald—December 3, 2017

Re: scot-free

Post by BonnieL » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:39 am

I never thought I'd agree with the official North Korean opinion - but in the case of our president, they're right. He is a lunatic. God help us.

I don't think our country will get off scot-free after this.

Re: scot-free

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:22 am

Being unaware of the etymology of scot in this context I'd never previously made the connection, but there's another descendant of the Old Norse root word that is still very much alive and well in Danish, namely skat, which means tax, treasure or darling, depending on the context.

As for White House Incumbent #45, I find that the best descriptors for him trend heavily towards the scatological.

As far as his attitude to North Korea is concerned, I fear that the orange toadstool is narcissistic and psychopathic enough to go ahead and nuke that country simply in order to distract the public and make it hard for Robert Mueller to indict him for obstruction of justice, with the excuse that America cannot afford to switch presidents in wartime because of the need for continuity in his office.

Post Reply