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'scot-free'

Posted by GPP on July 29, 2003

As much as the English might wish it (or the Scots, looked at the other way around), the term 'scot-free' has nothing at all to do with Scotland. Per M-W2, 'Scot' comes from Late Latin 'Scoti', Scotti, plural, from Old Irish 'Scuit'. The word 'scot' as used in the term 'scot-free' (adj. Without payment of scot; untaxed [don't they wish!]; hence, unhurt; clear; safe) comes from Old Norse 'skot', and from Old French 'escot' (French 'ecot'), of Teutonic origin; compare Anglo-Saxon 'sceotan' to shoot, to contribute; also compare 'shot' meaning 'share'. See the discussion on "Origin of the word 'shit'", below.