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growing up in the 60's in Dallas, Texas, we would cut our lawns very short at the beginning of the growing season, believing that this would cause the lawn to grow fuller in the summer. We referred to this practice as "skunting" the lawn. People would say, "Are you going to skunt your lawn."

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  • You should check UrbanDictionary.com for other usages of the word 'skunt.'
    – user862888
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:03
  • Or, alternatively, don't check it and keep the classical meaning in mind.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 20:44
  • I don't recall ever hearing it.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 0:38

2 Answers 2

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It's possible that this is a slang outgrowth of skinned. To skin something is to make it bare or remove the surface of something, which could be figuratively extended to cutting a short crop or lawn.

skinned > skint > skunt

Some sources I found in newspaper corpora use "skunt" to mean, clearly, "skinned."

he's dead an' gone to the Bad Place 'cause he skunt a cat--I don't mean skin the cat on an actin' pole like me an' Wilkes Booth Lincoln does--he skunt a sho' 'nough cat that was a black cat

Green's Dictionary of Slang lists skint as a slang variant of "skinned" with a cross reference to "skunt out," although it does not directly address this particular sense of "skunt."

without money, out of funds; thus as v., to make penniless.

The etymology here is listed as Standard English "skinned."

It looks likely that this sense of "skint" meaning "penniless" as a variation of "skinned" is similar to "skunt" meaning "cut bare" or "cut very short."

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    This is the first time that I have realised that 'skint' (meaning having run out of money) was an allusion to being skinned.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 20:42
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In a 1947 short story anthologized in Twenty-one Texas Stories, a man and his nephew discover that the caretaker in whose hands they left an inherited Hill Country farm has likely been helping himself to the profits as well as a few head of cattle:

"Because me and you's done been skunt out of no tellin how much money,” Uncle Mark said.

The expression is not limited to Texas, but also known in AAVE, or at least Joel Chandler Harris's version of it in 1880:

"So I kin git some water ter clean you wid atter I done skunt you, Brer Rabbit.' "Please, sir, lemme go, Brer Wolf.'"

So we've got Brer Rabbit about to get skinned, a couple of guys who got skinned by an untrusty caretaker, and most likely, ya'll's skinned lawns in Dallas.

Those who used skunting had apparently lost any sense of the word being a past participle and just begun using skunt as a regular verb.

Skint, however, is originally a British take on skinned from ca. 1925 and remains a primarily British term. It should thus be seen as a parallel rather than related form.

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