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Skiving off

August 14, 2019

Don’t feel like doing any work today. I feel like skiving. Skiving off. Being a skiver.

Skive. That’s a funny word, isn’t it? I always associate it with the 1970s. That’s probably because I was at school in the 70s and skiving was talked about and indeed practised a lot by me and my compeers. But leaving that aside I still think it’s true that one hears the word less these days.

I had assumed that the word was of Scandinavian origin, because I remember learning at university that most words beginning sk- came to us from the Vikings. Yet when I googled it just now I discovered that, although there is indeed a word skive which comes from Old Norse, it means to ‘pare down a piece of leather or other material’, a word only used by craftworkers. Its more common sense of avoiding work or bunking off is unrelated and has a completely different origin. According to the online dictionary it is a piece of 19th century American college slang and probably derives from the French word esquiver, meaning ‘to dodge’.

So now you know. Back to my skiving.

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2 Comments
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    It’s rather pleasing that it rhymes with Duck and Dive as well. Loafing seems less used in recent years but I do like the Australian word “bludger”.

  2. Mark Brafield permalink

    Dan Giles enjoyed it and used it to great effect – ‘no skiving boys, no skiving …’. Happy days (most of the time).

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