- any of a number of parallel beams or timbers fixed in place as a raised support for boats, spars, etc.
- any of a number of timbers on which a heavy object is placed to be shoved along on rollers or slid.
- an arrangement of planks serving as a runway for cargo.
- an arrangement of planks serving as a fender to protect the side of a vessel during transfer of cargo.
- sidewise motion of a vessel; leeway.
verb (used with object), skid·ded, skid·ding.
verb (used without object), skid·ded, skid·ding.
Origin of skid
Synonyms for skid
verb skids, skidding or skidded
Word Origin for skid
c.1600, "beam or plank on which something rests," especially on which something heavy can be rolled from place to place (1782), of uncertain origin, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse skið "stick of wood" (see ski (n.)). As "a sliding along" from 1890; specifically of motor vehicles from 1903. Skid-mark is from 1914.
In the timber regions of the American West, skids laid down one after another to form a road were "a poor thing for pleasure walks, but admirably adapted for hauling logs on the ground with a minimum of friction" ["Out West" magazine, October 1903]. A skid as something used to facilitate downhill motion led to figurative phrases such as hit the skids "go into rapid decline" (1909), and cf. skid row.
1670s, "apply a skid to (a wheel, to keep it from turning)," from skid (n.). Meaning "slide along" first recorded 1838; extended sense of "slip sideways" (on a wet road, etc.) first recorded 1884. The original notion is of a block of wood for stopping a wheel; the modern senses are from the notion of a wheel slipping when blocked from revolving.
on the skids
In the process of decline or ruin, as in If she quit now, her career would be on the skids. The skids here are runners such as those on a sled, enabling one to go downhill quickly. [c. 1920]
In addition to the idiom beginning with skid
- skid row
- on the skids
- put the skids on
- put the skids under