skate

Definitions

General English

Food

  • A flat triangular-shaped seawater fish, Rajus batis, of the shark family, with eyes on the upper side and mouth and gills on the lower side. The upper surface is greenish brown with spots and they can be up to 2 m wide. The white medium oily flesh from the skinned sides (wings) cut into pieces and nuggets of flesh cut from under the body are cooked in any way.

Slang

  • noun a pushover, an easy task, a ‘smooth ride’. A 1980s usage, from the image of skating across a surface or between obstacles.

Travel

  • noun a large flat sea fish with white flesh
  • verb to slide on ice wearing skates

Origin & History of “skate”

English has two words skate. The older is the fish-name (14th c.), which was borrowed from Old Norse skata. Skate used for gliding over ice (17th c.) comes from an Old French word for ‘stilt’ – eschasse. Its northern dialect form was escase. this was borrowed into English in the 16th century as the now obsolete scatch ‘stilt’, and into middle Dutch as schaetse, its meaning unaccountably changed to ‘skate’. Its modern Dutch descendant schaats was borrowed into English as scates, which soon came to be regarded as a plural, and was ‘singularized’ to skate. Eschasse itself came from a Frankish *skakkja, a derivative of the verb *skakan ‘run fast’, which in turn was descended from prehistoric Germanic *skakan (source of English shake).
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