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Posted: 11/15/2001 6:25:52 AM EDT
I was in court yesterday(traffic violation),and after pleading my case,all charges were dropped. The state trooper said "Well, looks like you got off scot-free." I've heard it a million times, but who the hell is "Scot"? What did he do to set the precedent for getting away with stuff? "Getting off scot free"
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 6:31:46 AM EDT
From [url]http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-sco1.htm[/url]
As with the word hopscotch, scot free has no connection with Scotsmen, frugal or otherwise. It's a Scandinavian word meaning "payment". The expression derives from a medieval municipal tax levied in proportional shares on inhabitants, often for poor relief. This was called a scot, as an abbreviation of the full term scot and lot, where scot was the sum to be paid and lot was one's allotted share. (This tax lasted a long time, in some places such as Westminster down to the electoral reforms of 1832, with only those paying scot and lot being allowed to vote.) So somebody who avoided paying his share of the town's expenses for some reason got off scot free. It was also used for a payment or reckoning, especially one's share of the cost of an entertainment; when one settled up, one "paid for one's scot". Again, someone who evaded paying their share of the tab got off scot free. It's been suggested that this usage may have come from the old habit of noting purchases of drinks and the like by making marks on a slate, or scotching it, but the evidence suggests this is just a popular etymology, and that the usage comes from the same idea of a sum due to be paid.
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Ain't the internet wonderful? The search took all of about 5 seconds.
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 6:34:56 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2001 6:28:02 AM EDT by Kharn]
This is how I remember it from the History channel, so a few details are probably wrong, but the gist of the story is correct: The English were holding a famous Scotsman in the Tower of London and he was to be executed. So, his buddies streamed into the cell, groups coming in, leaving in different numbers, etc to confuse the guards. One of the groups was a bunch of ladies who were covered head to toe and were crying their eyes out, one of the ladies had a spare outfit hiden under her own. Once they got into the cell, the prisoner dressed in the outer outfit and left with a few of the ladies, and everyone eventually left, I believe they stuffed the bed sheets to make it look like the prisoner was sleeping, etc. So, the Scotsman escaped from the Tower of London and the expression Scot-free was born. Kharn
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 6:37:32 AM EDT
[url]http://home.eol.ca/~buzzcorr/SCOT-FREE%20-%20LINGO.htm[/url] [b]scot-free Adjective Free from payment of ‘scot’, tavern score, fine, etc.; exempt from injury, punishment, etc.; scatheless. Almost exclusively predicative; especially in the phrase to go scot free¹. In the modern use of the expression, ‘scot’ is probably often interpreted as a mere intensive. Origin, a combination of scot, noun + free, adjective. From scot², a payment, contribution, ‘reckoning’; especially payment for entertainment; a or one’s share of such payment; chiefly in the phrase to pay (for) (one’s) scot. [Ultimately identical with OE. sc(e)ot, esc(e)ot shot n.; its formal relation to this is somewhat uncertain. There can be little doubt that ME. scot is in part of Scandinavian origin, a. ON. skot; but in some instances it may represent the OF. escot (mod.F. écot), which is an adoption of the Teutonic word; in some uses, again (especially in Rome-scot) the OE. written form may have been preserved traditionally or revived from documents.] Variations: rarely scotchfree, scotts-free. Reference: OED2ROM From OED2: ¹scot-free ?12.. Charter of 1066 in Kemble Cod. Diplom. IV. 191 Scotfre and gauelfre, on schire and on hundrede. 1531 Tindale Expos. 1 John (1537) 22 The poore synner shulde go Skot fre without oughte at all. 1546 St. Papers Hen. VIII, XI. 129 What damages their cuntrey and peple had suffred by this warre, and that Your Majestie went not all scott free. a1548 Hall Chron., Edw. IV, 233 They payed no money, but were set scot free. 1567 J. Maplet Green Forest 93 Daniell scaped scotchfree by Gods prouidence. 1579­80 North Plutarch, Tiberius & Caius (1595) 878 Caius..had charged the poore citizens with an annuall rent for the lands..Liuius..did please them by..letting them haue the lands scotfree. 1622 Mabbe tr. Aleman’s Guzman d’Alf. ii. 231 The first speaker scapes scot-free. 1665­6 Wood Life (O.H.S.) II. 73 Oxford escaped scot fre of the plague. 1740 Richardson Pamela (1824) I. 117 She should not, for all the trouble she has cost you, go away scot-free. 1792 Wolcot (P. Pindar) Odes of Condolence Wks. 1794 III. 237 Scot-free the Poets drank and ate; They paid no taxes to the State! 1819 Scott Ivanhoe xii, Do as much for this fellow and thou shalt pass scot-free. 1858 R. S. Surtees Ask Mamma xiv. 45 The sporting inhabitants thereof preferred the money-griping propensities of a certain Baronet..to the scot-free sport with the frigid civilities of the noble Earl. 1875 Stubbs Const. Hist. xiv. I. 133 The people had not been heavily taxed, and the clergy had passed..scot-free. 1877 Black Green Past. xiii, When some notorious offender has got off scot free. ²scot 1860 Emerson Cond. Life, Wealth Wks. (Bohn) II. 346 No system of clientship suits them; but every man must pay his scot. 1870 A. Steinmetz Gaming Table I. viii. 214 Some silly lad..allows himself to be..wheedled into paying their scot. 1879 Pattison Milton iii. 36 He paid his scot by reciting from memory some of his youthful Latin verses. 1879 G. F. Jackson Shropsh. Word-bk., Scot, an ale-house reckoning.[/b]
Link Posted: 11/15/2001 6:38:55 AM EDT
Originally Posted By KBaker: From [url]http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-sco1.htm[/url]
As with the word hopscotch, scot free has no connection with Scotsmen, frugal or otherwise. It's a Scandinavian word meaning "payment". The expression derives from a medieval municipal tax levied in proportional shares on inhabitants, often for poor relief. This was called a scot, as an abbreviation of the full term scot and lot, where scot was the sum to be paid and lot was one's allotted share. (This tax lasted a long time, in some places such as Westminster down to the electoral reforms of 1832, with only those paying scot and lot being allowed to vote.) So somebody who avoided paying his share of the town's expenses for some reason got off scot free. It was also used for a payment or reckoning, especially one's share of the cost of an entertainment; when one settled up, one "paid for one's scot". Again, someone who evaded paying their share of the tab got off scot free. It's been suggested that this usage may have come from the old habit of noting purchases of drinks and the like by making marks on a slate, or scotching it, but the evidence suggests this is just a popular etymology, and that the usage comes from the same idea of a sum due to be paid.
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Ain't the internet wonderful? The search took all of about 5 seconds.
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Thanks KBaker,and thanks to Al gore for inventing this modern marvel.
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