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See also: scotfree


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English scotfre, from Old English scotfrēo (scot-free; exempt from royal tax or imposts), equivalent to scot (payment; contribution; fine) +‎ -free.[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌskɒtˈfɹi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌskɑtˈfɹi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iː


scot-free (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Without consequences or penalties, free without payment.
    to get off scot-free
    • a. 1664 (date written), Robert Sanderson, “The Preface to the Reader”, in XXXIV Sermons. [], 5th edition, London: [] [A. Clark] for A. Seil, and are to be sold by G. Sawbridge, [], published 1671, →OCLC:
      [T]he Papiſts, profeſſed Enemies of our Church and Religion, eſcaping in the mean vvhile Scot-free, ſeldome or never medled vvithal in any of their Sermons.
    • 1967, United States. Congress. House. Committee on the District of Columbia, Anticrime Legislation, page 38:
      Correct me if I am missuggesting; you stated that there were 28,000 actual serious crimes committed in 1965 —I believe it was that year — and only 1,000 convictions , which means that the chances are, roughly, 28 to 1 of getting off scot free — that one can commit an act of violence, a serious crime, and have a good chance of getting off.
    • 2021 September 5, Chris McGreal, “Opioids have killed 600,000 Americans. The Sacklers just got off scot-free”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Opioids have killed 600,000 Americans. The Sacklers just got off scot-free [title]
    • 2022 August 4, Elizabeth Williamson, quoting Mark Bankston, “Jurors Award Sandy Hook Parents $4 Million in Damages”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      He added: “It’s been a long journey, and it’s really, really nice to able[sic] to turn and look at my clients, and say ‘he can’t get off scot-free for this. He can’t. You had a defendant who went into that courtroom and said, ‘I think I should have to pay them a dollar.’ And this jury said no.”



scot-free (comparative more scot-free, superlative most scot-free)

  1. (archaic) Free of scot, free of tax.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mair, Victor (2022-10-26), “Scot-free”, in Language Log[1], University of Pennsylvania, retrieved 2022-10-26