Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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

share|improve this question

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.

1 Answer 1

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."

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.