Posted by Richard Young on January 07, 2003
The origin of the phrase "scott free" lies in the original wording, "scotch free". "Scotch" is used in this sense to be a scratch, mar, or scar, particularly in a grid pattern. Similar uses of "scotch" in this context include "butterscotch", (made with butter, has to be sliced up in the pan after cooling), "hop=scotch", (a child's game that in part involves "hop"-ping over grid lines /"scotches") and "Scotch plaid", (refering to the regular gridwork formed by the boundaries of the different colors/patterns). Hence, to escape "scott free" is emerge from a dangerous circumstance without even a scratch or mark, much less more severe damage.