- to take up or remove (floating matter) from the surface of a liquid, as with a spoon or ladle: to skim the cream from milk.
- to clear (liquid) thus: to skim milk.
- to move or glide lightly over or along (a surface, as of water): The sailboat skimmed the lake.
- to throw in a smooth, gliding path over or near a surface, or so as to bounce or ricochet along a surface: to skim a stone across the lake.
- to read, study, consider, treat, etc., in a superficial or cursory manner.
- to cover, as a liquid, with a thin film or layer: Ice skimmed the lake at night.
- to take the best or most available parts or items from: Bargain hunters skimmed the flea markets early in the morning.
- to take (the best or most available parts or items) from something: The real bargains had been skimmed by early shoppers.
- Metallurgy. to remove (slag, scum, or dross) from the surface of molten metal.
- to conceal a portion of (winnings, earnings, etc.) in order to avoid paying income taxes, commissions, or the like on the actual total revenue (sometimes followed by off): The casino skimmed two million a year.
- to take, remove, or appropriate for illegal use: to skim information from another's credit card.
- to pass or glide lightly over or near a surface.
- to read, study, consider, etc., something in a superficial or cursory way.
- to become covered with a thin film or layer.
- Slang. to conceal gambling or other profits so as to avoid paying taxes, etc.; practice skimming.
Origin of skim
- (tr, adverb) to take the best part ofthe teacher skimmed off the able pupils for his class
- (tr) to remove floating material from the surface of (a liquid), as with a spoonto skim milk
- to glide smoothly or lightly over (a surface)
- (tr) to throw (something) in a path over a surface, so as to bounce or ricochetto skim stones over water
- (when intr, usually foll by through) to read (a book) in a superficial or cursory manner
- to cover (a liquid) with a thin layer or (of liquid) to become coated in this way, as with ice, scum, etc
- the act or process of skimming
- material skimmed off a liquid, esp off milk
- the liquid left after skimming
- any thin layer covering a surface
Word Origin and History for skim off
early 15c. (skimmer, the utensil, is attested from late 14c.), "to clear (a liquid) from matter floating on the surface, lift the scum from," from Old French escumer "remove scum," from escume (Modern French écume) "scum," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German scum "scum," German Schaum; see scum). Meaning "to throw (a stone) so as to skip across the surface of (water) is from 1610s. Meaning "to move lightly and rapidly over the surface of" is from 1650s, from the motion involved in skimming liquid; that of "to glance over carelessly" (in reference to printed matter) recorded by 1799. Related: Skimmed; skimming.