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Get the skinny?

Posted by ESC on November 07, 2002

In Reply to: Get the skinny? posted by Michael on November 06, 2002

: Have to find out what this means. I found it in the dictionary, but need the origin. Thanks to all.

SKINNY - Information, hot news. From "Straight from the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang" by Max Décharné (Broadway Books, Random House, New York, 2000).

And, from the archives, a link to another online site - The Word Detective:
"The skinny" does indeed mean "the straight story" or, more precisely, "the inside story, the real truth." The first citation for this use of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary is remarkably recent, from 1959. Since it appeared in the linguistics journal "American Speech" in that year, however, we can safely assume that the term had been in circulation for quite a while before it was reported. "The skinny" is defined as a slang term in the Third Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, but no clue is offered as to its origin. Related slang uses of the word "skinny" aren't much help. As of 1934, according to Eric Partridge's Dictionary of the Underworld, "skinny" meant a ten-cent piece, probably related to the classic "one thin dime." In Australian slang, a "skinny" is a young woman, and in the linguistic outback of the world of high fashion, "skinny" means "tight-fitting." "Skinny-dipping," of course, is the perennial youthful ritual of displaying your birthday suit under the guise of swimming. Finally, according to Wentworth and Flexner's Dictionary of American Slang, if you happened to be a cadet at Annapolis in the mid-1920's, "the skinny" meant a course in physics or astronomy. Go figure. Ultimately, "the skinny" seems to be one of those slang phrases without a catchy story to explain its origin. Most likely, it was a takeoff on the idea of "getting down to the skin" of a story, beneath the flourishes and frippery.