noun, plural skull·dug·ger·ies.



noun, plural skul·dug·ger·ies.

dishonorable proceedings; mean dishonesty or trickery: bribery, graft, and other such skulduggery.
an instance of dishonest or deceitful behavior; trick.
Also skull·dug·ger·y.Sometimes scul·dug·ger·y, scull·dug·ger·y.

Origin of skulduggery

1705–15, Americanism; variant of sculduddery, orig. Scots: fornication, obscenity < ? Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for skullduggery

Contemporary Examples of skullduggery

Historical Examples of skullduggery

  • "Very likely he's up to some skullduggery, sir," Matt opined.

    Cappy Ricks

    Peter B. Kyne

  • After a little conversation to assure themselves that there was no skullduggery afoot, the truckers consented.

    The Knack of Managing

    Lewis K. Urquhart and Herbert Watson

  • He would be cagey enough to stay ignorant of any overt strife or any other skullduggery that could be laid at his door.

    Highways in Hiding

    George Oliver Smith

  • We utilize persuasion, skullduggery, and even force to subvert their institutions, to destroy their present culture.

    Black Man's Burden

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for skullduggery


US skullduggery


informal underhand dealing; trickery

Word Origin for skulduggery

C19: altered from earlier Scot sculduddery; of obscure 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 skullduggery



1856, apparently an alteration of Scottish sculdudrie "adultery" (1713), sculduddery "bawdry, obscenity" (1821), a euphemism of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper