completely free from harm, restraint, punishment, or obligation: The driver of the car escaped from the accident scot-free. The judge let the defendant off scot-free.

Origin of scot-free

Middle English word dating back to 1200–50; see origin at scot, -free Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scot-free

Contemporary Examples of scot-free

  • And even if the suspect goes on to be pronounced innocent, he or she does not get off scot-free.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Time for a Perp Walk Ban?

    Tony Doukopil

    July 1, 2011

  • The active sexual partner got off scot-free to flaunt his aggressive “manliness.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    St. Paul's Pedophilia Scandal

    Sarah Ruden

    April 3, 2010

Historical Examples of scot-free

  • Scottie, you fellows, even when you had Allister to lead you, couldn't get off scot-free from Dozier.

  • I am not going to let them get off scot-free, nasty, wicked thieves.

    The Carroll Girls

    Mabel Quiller-Couch

  • I only wish I had been there; they wouldn't have got off scot-free, the scoundrels!'

  • And if you can show that you weren't there at all—why, out you go, scot-free.

    The Calico Cat

    Charles Miner Thompson

  • Louie was not merely let off scot-free for what she did, but was to have every happiness given to her.

    The Third Miss Symons

    Flora Macdonald Mayor

British Dictionary definitions for scot-free


adverb, adjective

(predicative) without harm, loss, or penalty

Word Origin for scot-free

C16: see scot and lot
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for scot-free

Old English scotfreo "exempt from royal tax," from scot "royal tax," from Old Norse skot "contribution," literally "a shooting, shot; thing shot, missile," from PIE *skeud- "to shoot, chase, throw" (see shoot (v.); the Old Norse verb form, skjota, has a secondary sense of "transfer to another; pay") + freo (see free (adj.)). First element related to Old English sceotan "to pay, contribute," Dutch schot, German Schoß "tax, contribution." French écot "share" (Old French escot) is from Germanic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper