- to glide or propel oneself over ice, the ground, etc., on skates.
- to glide or slide smoothly along.
- Slang. to shirk one's duty; loaf.
- (of the tone arm on a record player) to swing toward the spindle while a record is playing.
- to slide (a flat) across the floor of a stage.
- get/put one's skates on, British Informal. to make haste.
- skate on thin ice, to be or place oneself in a risky or delicate situation: Taking a public stand on the question would be skating on thin ice.
Origin of skate1
- to glide swiftly on skates
- to slide smoothly over a surface
- skate on thin ice to place oneself in a dangerous or delicate situation
- any large ray of the family Rajidae, of temperate and tropical seas, having flat pectoral fins continuous with the head, two dorsal fins, a short spineless tail, and a long snout
- US slang a person; fellow
Word Origin and History for put one's skates on
"type of flat, cartilaginous fish, a kind of ray," mid-14c., from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse skata "skate," Danish skade, Faeroese skøta, of unknown origin.
"ice skate," 1660s, skeates "ice skates," from Dutch schaats (plural schaatsen), a singular mistaken in English for plural, from Middle Dutch schaetse. The word and the custom were brought to England after the Restoration by exiled followers of Charles II who had taken refuge in Holland.
The Dutch word is from Old North French escache "a stilt, trestle," related to Old French eschace "stilt" (French échasse), from Frankish *skakkja "stilt" or a similar Germanic source (cf. Frisian skatja "stilt"), perhaps literally "thing that shakes or moves fast" and related to root of Old English sceacan "to vibrate" (see shake (v.)). Or perhaps [Klein] the Dutch word is connected to Middle Low German schenke, Old English scanca "leg" (see shank). Sense alteration in Dutch from "stilt" to "skate" is not clearly traced. Sense in English extended to roller-skates by 1876. Meaning "an act of skating" is from 1853.
1690s, "to ice-skate," from skate (n.2). U.S. slang sense of "to get away with something" is attested from 1945. Related: Skated; skating.