the ability, coming from one's knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well: Carpentry was one of his many skills.
competent excellence in performance; expertness; dexterity: The dancers performed with skill.
a craft, trade, or job requiring manual dexterity or special training in which a person has competence and experience: the skill of cabinetmaking.
Obsolete. understanding; discernment.
Obsolete. reason; cause.

Origin of skill

1125–75; Middle English < Old Norse skil distinction, difference; cognate with Dutch geschil difference, quarrel. See skill2

Synonyms for skill

Antonyms for skill



verb (used without object) Archaic.

to matter.
to help; avail.

Origin of skill

1150–1200; Middle English skilien < Old Norse skilja to distinguish, divide, akin to skil (see skill1), Old English scylian to separate, Gothic skilja butcher, Lithuanian skélti to split Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for skill

Contemporary Examples of skill

Historical Examples of skill

  • The surgeon was in constant attendance, but the malady baffled all his skill.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The veteran at the stern we could not see, but doubtless his skill was equally remarkable.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • Yates was something of a wrestler himself, but his skill was of no avail on this occasion.

  • Yet I admired her skill, and did not wonder that the house applauded.

  • To open the door for themselves was beyond their force or skill.

British Dictionary definitions for skill



special ability in a task, sport, etc, esp ability acquired by training
something, esp a trade or technique, requiring special training or manual proficiency
obsolete understanding
Derived Formsskill-less or skilless, adjective

Word Origin for skill

C12: from Old Norse skil distinction; related to Middle Low German schēle, Middle Dutch geschil difference
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 skill

late 12c., "power of discernment," from Old Norse skil "distinction, ability to make out, discernment, adjustment," related to skilja (v.) "to separate; discern, understand," from Proto-Germanic *skaljo- "divide, separate" (cf. Swedish skäl "reason," Danish skjel "a separation, boundary, limit," Middle Low German schillen "to differ," Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schele "separation, discrimination;" see shell (n.)). Sense of "ability, cleverness" first recorded early 13c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper