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- Perhaps from skeleton, describing the often skeletal appearance of drug users.
- Alternatively, from skellum or skelder ("to beg in the streets"). Used by Ben Jonson, 1599.
- In the sense of a suspicious person, popularized by the American TV police drama NYPD Blue.
skell (plural skells)
- (slang, US, New York) a homeless person, especially one who sleeps in the New York subway.
- Did you see those two skells lying in the doorway?
- (slang, US, New York, police jargon) A male suspicious person or crime suspect, especially a street person such as a drug dealer, pimp or panhandler.
- See also Thesaurus:vagabond
- The City in Slang, New York Life and Popular Speech, by Irving Lewis Allen, 1993.
- Dictionary of American Regional English, by Joan Houston Hall, 2002