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See more synonyms for skate on Thesaurus.com
  1. ice skate(def 1).
  2. roller skate.
  3. the blade of an ice skate.
  4. a skid on a lifeboat to facilitate launching from a listing ship.
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verb (used without object), skat·ed, skat·ing.
  1. to glide or propel oneself over ice, the ground, etc., on skates.
  2. to glide or slide smoothly along.
  3. Slang. to shirk one's duty; loaf.
  4. (of the tone arm on a record player) to swing toward the spindle while a record is playing.
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verb (used with object), skat·ed, skat·ing.
  1. to slide (a flat) across the floor of a stage.
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  1. get/put one's skates on, British Informal. to make haste.
  2. 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.
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Origin of skate1

1640–50; orig. plural scates < Dutch schaats (singular) skate, Middle Dutch schaetse stilt (compare Medieval Latin scatia) < ?
Related formsskate·a·ble, adjective


noun, plural (especially collectively) skate, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) skates.
  1. any of several rays of the genus Raja, usually having a pointed snout, as R. binoculata (big skate), inhabiting waters along the Pacific coast of the U.S., growing to a length of 8 feet (2.4 meters).
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Origin of skate2

1300–50; Middle English scate < Old Norse skati


noun Slang.
  1. a person; fellow: He's a good skate.
  2. a contemptible person.
  3. an inferior, decrepit horse; nag.
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Origin of skate3

perhaps special use of skate2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for skate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for skate


  1. See roller skate, ice skate
  2. the steel blade or runner of an ice skate
  3. such a blade fitted with straps for fastening to a shoe
  4. a current collector on an electric railway train that collects its current from a third railCompare bow collector
  5. get one's skates on to hurry
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verb (intr)
  1. to glide swiftly on skates
  2. to slide smoothly over a surface
  3. skate on thin ice to place oneself in a dangerous or delicate situation
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Word Origin

C17: via Dutch from Old French éschasse stilt, probably of Germanic origin


noun plural skate or skates
  1. 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
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Word Origin

C14: from Old Norse skata


  1. US slang a person; fellow
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Word Origin

from Scottish and northern English dialect skate, a derogatory term of uncertain origin
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 skate


"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.

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"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.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with skate


In addition to the idiom beginning with skate

  • skate over

also see:

  • cheap skate
  • on thin ice, skate
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.