Use skate in a sentence

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed, from 9/26:


Ruthie is faced with the task of demonstrating what a word means by using it in a sentence — a task often assigned to children as a test of their understanding of word meanings. But choosing effective example sentences is a challenging art for professional lexicographers, and children are not particularly good at it.

In this case, “the word skate” could be a verb (‘move on ice skates or roller skates in a gliding fashion’ (NOAD)) or any one of several nouns, but, on hearing about her tightwad great-aunt, Ruthie fixes instead on the otherwise opaque /sket/ portion of the compound cheapskate ‘tightwad, miser’ (which she analyzes as a composite nominal cheap skate).

From the site on the compound cheapskate:


(Phonological note: though the first element of cheapskate pretty clearly is the Adj cheap ‘miserly, stingy’ (said of a person), the whole thing is accented in the same way as N + N compounds, with primary accent on the first element — as in greenhouse, hotplate, bigfoot, etc. — in contrast to clearly Adj + N nominals, as in a cheap (‘inexpensive’) date, a (dark) green house, a (very) hot plate, big feet, etc., which have primary accent on the second element.)

Ruthie’s school exercise is, we can guess, aimed at the intransitive verb skate (or its causative transitive counterpart, as in She skated the stone across the water) or the 1a noun skate from NOAD:

noun skate-1: [a] an ice skate or roller skate. [b] a device, typically with wheels on the underside, used to move a heavy or unwieldy object.

noun skate-2: a typically large marine fish of the ray family with a cartilaginous skeleton and a flattened diamond-shaped body. Family Rajidae: numerous species, in particular the commercially valuable Raja batis.

(#3) Common Skate, Raja batis, of culinary value

But now the slangy idiom cheapskate. From NOAD:

noun cheapskateinformal a stingy person. ORIGIN late 19th century (originally US): from cheap [North American informal miserly; stingy]  + skate-3 [informal, dated or South African an uncouth and disreputable man. ORIGIN late 19th century: of uncertain origin.]

On the slang skate-3, which was entirely new to me, from GDoS:

noun skate: [subseq. senses are fig. uses of sense 1] (US) 1 an inferior horse. [1st cite 1899-1900] 2 a second-rate sportsman. … 4 a person, irrespective of qualities. [1st cite 1893] 5 a mean or contemptible person [1st cite 1900 in college slang; all the cites from 1920 on are from British sources]

(I’ve omitted senses that have to do with skating through or over things.)

The cheapskate is a common figure in cartoons, as in this Cyanide and Happiness strip:


And, most memorably in the Disney Studio figure of Scrooge McDuck, who gets his first name from the penurious Ebenezer Scrooge of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and his patronymic prefix Mc from the stereotype of the stingy Scotsman. A Don Rosa depiction of Scrooge McDuck:


Earlier on this blog, on Disney cartoonists and this character:

on 4/24/14, in “Carl Barks”

on 4/25/14, in “Don Rosa”


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: