For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.
The late Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax How The Irish Invented Slang, claimed that skip, as in ‘to skip bail’, is from the Irish word scaip. I suggest you take a look at the excellent online Dictionary of Middle English provided free of charge by the University of Michigan. Here’s what their database has to say about the Middle English verb skippen:
“(a) To run, go, travel; hasten, hurry, rush; also, flee; also, run around busily [quot.: c1425 Mirror LM&W]; of lightning: dart, shoot; ~ bihinden, move into position behind someone; ~ forth, flee, escape; ~ oute, go out, rush out; also, flee; ~ over, go (into the assembly); also, forge ahead [quot.: WBible(2) Prov.]; (b) ?to attack; (c) ~ oute, of a bird: to hop out of a cage; skippinge oute, hopping out (of a cage); (d) to bounce; (e) of the spirit of the Lord: to enter (into sb.), descend (upon sb.); of strife: break out, arise; of venial sin: change (into deadly sin); ~ up, of the soul: ascend (into heaven); (f) to pass over or omit material in reading, or in the telling of a narrative; ~ over.”
So, by the early 15th century, the word skip already had the full range of meanings that the modern word skip has. As for Cassidy’s Irish candidate, scaip, it is defined by WinGléacht (the electronic version of Ó Dónaill’s Irish-English Dictionary) as:
“1. Scatter 2. Spread, disseminate 3. Dissipate 4. Disperse 5. Scaipigí! – Dismiss!”
I need hardly point out that this is not as good a match as the word skippen found in Middle English.