phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Scot Free

Posted by James Briggs on August 07, 2000

In Reply to: Answered my own question, or am I too far out on a limb here? posted by Dave Davis on August 07, 2000

: Furthering my own research, I checked out the origin of the name "Scott." Apparently:

: SCOTT (m) "a Scot" (Old English). The original meaning of the word Scot is debated, but it may mean "tattoo", so given because Scotsmen often had tattoos.

: My thoery: I'm an attorney and know that prior to modern law enforcement and record keeping, criminals were often visibly "marked" so that they quite literally carried their records with them. For example, a thief might have a "T" branded onto their right hand (some cultures would amputate a thief's hand). If "Scot" meant "tattoo" and "Scott free" means to get away with something unscathed, perhaps
"Scott Free" meant to get away with something without a mark?

: Unless a wiser reader has a better theory, I'm going with this. Please chime in if I'm wrong (or if you agree!)

: - dpd -

Here's what I reckon.
To go Scot free is to get away from a difficult situation
without penalty or loss. Scot used to spelt Sceot
and was an ancient form of tax, Sometimes poor people
were excused this tax; they got away Scot free.

See also: the meaning and origin of 'scot free'.