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Scott Free/scotch free

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.