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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English skilen (also schillen), partly from Old English scylian, scielian ‎(to separate, part, divide off); and partly from Old Norse skilja ‎(to divide, separate); both from Proto-Germanic *skilōną, *skiljaną ‎(to divide, limit), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kalǝ-, *(s)kelǝ- ‎(to split, cut). Cognate with Danish skille ‎(to separate, discard), Swedish skilja ‎(to distinguish, differentiate, part), Icelandic skilja ‎(to understand), Low German schelen ‎(to make a difference; to be squint-eyed), Dutch schelen ‎(to make a difference).


skill ‎(third-person singular simple present skills, present participle skilling, simple past and past participle skilled)

  1. (transitive) To set apart; separate.
  2. (transitive, chiefly dialectal) To discern; have knowledge or understanding; to know how (to).
    • (Can we date this quote?) Herbert:
      I can not skill of these thy ways.
  3. (transitive) To know; to understand.
    • Barrow
      to skill the arts of expressing our mind
  4. (intransitive) To have knowledge or comprehension; discern.
  5. (intransitive) To have personal or practical knowledge; be versed or practised; be expert or dextrous.
  6. (intransitive, archaic) To make a difference; signify; matter.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Herbert:
      What skills it, if a bag of stones or gold / About thy neck do drown thee?
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Scott:
      It skills not talking of it.
  • (separate): split (call management systems)

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English skill, skille (also schil, schile), from Old English *scile and Old Norse skil ‎(a distinction, discernment, knowledge), from Proto-Germanic *skilją ‎(separation, limit), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kalǝ-, *(s)kelǝ- ‎(to split, cut). Cognate with Danish skel ‎(a separation, boundary, divide), Swedish skäl ‎(reason), Dutch verschil ‎(difference) and schillen ‎(to sperate the outer layer (schil) from the product, verb).


skill ‎(countable and uncountable, plural skills)

  1. Capacity to do something well; technique, ability. Skills are usually acquired or learned, as opposed to abilities, which are often thought of as innate.
    • 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapterII:
      Orion hit a rabbit once; but though sore wounded it got to the bury, and, struggling in, the arrow caught the side of the hole and was drawn out. Indeed, a nail filed sharp is not of much avail as an arrowhead; you must have it barbed, and that was a little beyond our skill.
    • 2013 December 6, Simon Hoggart, “Araucaria's last puzzle: crossword master dies”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 26, page 43:
      The skill was not in creating a grid full of words, but in producing clues cryptic enough to baffle the puzzler, yet constructed so honestly that they could be solved by any intelligent person who knew the conventions.
  2. (obsolete) Discrimination; judgment; propriety; reason; cause.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  3. (obsolete) Knowledge; understanding.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)
  4. (obsolete) Display of art; exercise of ability; contrivance; address.
    • Thomas Fuller (1606-1661)
      Richard [] by a thousand princely skills, gathering so much corn as if he meant not to return.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


skill ‎(comparative skiller, superlative skillest)

  1. (Britain, slang) great, excellent.
    • 1987, Teresa Maughan, Letters (in Your Sinclair issue 18, June 1987)
      Well, unfortunately for you, my dearest Waggipoos, I'm much more skill than you!
    • 1991, Wreckers (video game review in Crash issue 88, May 1991)
      This game is skill. Remember that because it's going to sound really complicated.
    • 1999, "Andy Smith", I am well skill (on Internet newsgroup alt.digitiser)
      And I am skiller than you.



Norwegian Bokmål[edit]



  1. imperative of skille