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skulk +‎ -er


skulker (plural skulkers)

  1. Agent noun of skulk; one who skulks.
    1. One who stays where they cannot be seen (often in a cowardly way or with the intent of doing harm).
      • 1894, William Taylor Adams (as Oliver Optic), Brother Against Brother, or The War on the Border, Boston: Lee and Shepard, Chapter 22, p. 274,[1]
        Our men, from their position, can’t see these skulkers, who will have a good chance to pick off some of them at their leisure.
      • 1989, Jack Vance, Madouc, Novato, CA: Underwood-Miller, Chapter 12, p. 344,[2]
        The Lyonesse army cautiously advanced into the forest, but came upon no Daut resistance. Cassander’s dissatisfaction was compounded by the pulsing pain in his shoulder. He began to curse under his breath. “Where are the skulkers? Why do they not reveal themselves?”
    2. One who moves in a stealthy or furtive way; one who comes or goes while trying to avoid detection.
      • 1700, George Booth (translator), The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian in Fifteen Books, London: Awnsham and John Churchill, Book 2, Chapter 4, p. 81,[3]
        Afterwards he was again taken by Ethiopian Skulkers, and carry’d away into the Maritime Parts of Ethiopia.
      • 1800, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (translator), The Death of Wallenstein by Friedrich Schiller, Act I, Scene 7, in Wallenstein. A Drama in Two Parts, London: Longman and Rees, p. 24,[4]
        O that thou hadst believ’d me! Yester evening
        Did we conjure thee not to let that skulker,
        That fox, Octavio, pass the gates of Pilsen.
        Thou gav’st him thy own horses to flee from thee.
      • 1911, Charles G. D. Roberts, Neighbors Unknown, New York: Macmillan, Chapter “The Bull of the Barrens,” p. 205,[5]
        In the meantime the pack, maddened by failure and ravenous from the view of food denied, had resumed the trail of the man. They were different beings now from the wary skulkers who had been following him from afar.
    3. One who avoids an obligation or responsibility.
      Synonyms: shirk, shirker, skulk
      • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, London: J. Osborn, Volume 1, Chapter 27, p. 248,[6]
        When we appeared upon deck, the captain bid the doctor, who stood bowing at his right hand, look at these lazy, lubberly sons of bitches, who were good for nothing on board, but to eat the king’s provision, and encourage idleness in the skulkers.
      • 1818, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 15,[7]
        John himself was no skulker in joy. He not only bestowed on Mr. Morland the high commendation of being one of the finest fellows in the world, but swore off many sentences in his praise.
      • 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Treasure of Franchard” in The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables, New York: Scribner, 1887, p. 271,[8]
        A man must not deny his manifest abilities, for that is to evade his obligations. I must be up and doing; I must be no skulker in life’s battle.
      • 1912, Saki, “Ministers of Grace” in The Chronicles of Clovis, London: John Lane, p. 274,[9]
        Mr. Ap Dave, the Chancellor [] had risen in his place to make an unprovoked apology for having alluded in a recent speech to certain protesting taxpayers as “skulkers.”