Sunday, December 27, 2009


Not “Scott” nor “Scot”

I’ve seen the phrase “Scott-free” (or the lowercase version, “scott-free”) quite often recently, so I thought I’d comment on it, and offer something you probably don’t know.

That it’s not Scott, many of you do know — it has nothing to do with someone’s name.

But it’s not Scot either. That is, it also has nothing to do with Scotland nor its people.

The phrase scot-free, which means “without payment or penalty”, is the only remaining use of the obsolete word scot, meaning “tax”. It dates from the early 13th century, and entered Middle English from Old Norse. So, scot-free originally meant “tax-free”, and was generalized from there.

Now you don’t have to think you’re insulting the Scots when you use it. Gets you off scot-free, eh?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Well that's good to know. *feels free to use expression now*