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As in, that criminal got off scot-free despite a mountain of evidence that would seem to indicate his guilt.

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closed as general reference by Gnawme, FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Daniel, MrHen Apr 14 '12 at 14:41

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

From the etymonline.com entry for scot:

scot-free
O.E. scotfreo "exempt from royal tax," from scot "royal tax," from O.N. skot "contribution, reckoning, shot" + freo (see free). Related to O.E. sceotan "to pay, contribute," Du. schot, Ger. Schoß "tax, contribution" (see shot). O.Fr. escot (Fr. écot) "share" is a Germanic loan-word.

You see this remnant also in the phrase "scot and lot."

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