From: Ben Crick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Mar 23 1998 - 16:42:28 EST
On Sun 22 Mar 98 (20:04:25), email@example.com wrote:
> And, while we're at it, does anyone know etymology of skivvies. The
> double v is most unusual in English.
It's altogether an unusual word in English...
When I was at school in the 40s/50s, a "Skiv" or a "Skivvy" was a young
female domestic servant who laid the tables for meals and washed up the
dishes afterwards. They also cleaned the boarding house generally whilst we
pupils were at our lessons.
When I joined the Army in 1952, a "Skiver" was one who tried to dodge the
column or evade doing his duties; especially the more unpleasant or menial
duties. "To skive" meant to avoid duties in this manner. Needless to say,
such activity was highly unpopular with the rest of us, who had to cover
for the skivers' sins of omission.
My Slang Dictionary does not list the word at all, to my surprise. But it
*is* listed in my Roget's /Thesaurus/, where it is catalogued under the
general heading "sharpness".
My Cassel's English Dictionary lists "*skive* [Icelandic /skifa/, cognate
with shive], v.t. To split (leather) into thin layers; to shave or pare
(hides). *skiver* (1), n. A paring-tool for leather; a thin leather split
from a sheepskin, used for bookbinding. *skiver* (2) [SKEWER].
My Webster's gives a similar definition to Cassel's. Icelandic and
Scandinavian "sk-" is pronounced as English "sh-"; hence the ambiguity in
What meaning do *you* assign to the English "skivvies"?
-- Revd Ben Crick, BA CF <firstname.lastname@example.org> 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK) http://www.cnetwork.co.uk/crick.htm
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