19th century US - dramatically appearing and gaining prominence in Civil War military contexts around 1861, and rapidly passing into more general use. Possibly an alteration of British dialect scaddle (“to run off in a fright”), from the adjective scaddle (“wild, timid, skittish”), from Middle English scathel, skadylle (“harmful, fierce, wild”), perhaps of North Germanic/Scandinavian origin, from Old Norse *sköþull; or from Old English *scaþol, *sceaþol (see scathel); akin to Old Norse skaði (“harm”).
- (informal, intransitive, US) To move or run away quickly.
- 1975, Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift [Avon ed., 1976, pl. 122]:
- Then filled with inspiration he drove in his Buick, the busted muffler blasting in the country lanes and the great long car skedaddling dangerously on the curves. Lucky for the woodchucks they were already hibernating.
- 2018, Oliver Bullough, chapter 2, in Moneyland, →ISBN, page 41:
- In the early 1960s, there were plenty of people still alive who had looted Europe in the Second World War, parked proceeds in Switzerland, and skedaddled to Argentina.
- (transitive, regional) To spill; to scatter.
- (move or run away quickly): flee, vamoose, scat, take off, make tracks, get lost, kick rocks, hightail; see also Thesaurus:move quickly, Thesaurus:rush or Thesaurus:flee
skedaddle (plural skedaddles)
- (informal) The act of running away; a scurrying off.
- 1897, Hunter, Robert, and Charles Morris, editors, Universal Dictionary of the English Language, v4, p4291: "Etym. doubtful; perhaps allied to scud. To betake one's self hurriedly to flight; to run away as in a panic; to fly in terror. (A word of American origin.)"
- Michael Quinion (7 February 2004), “Skedaddle”, in World Wide Words.