Origin of the Yankee phrase "Skedaddle."
A friend of ours says that this phrase, apparently invented by the Yankees
, in a prophetic spirit, to describe their own predestined performances in that part of the drill which is inaugurated by the command ‘"right about face,"’ is certainly derived from ‘"skedase,
"’ the future tense of the Greek verb ‘ "skedonnumi,
"’ signifying ‘"to disperse. "’ This verb, in some of its tenses, is frequently used by Homer
to describe that manœuvre called by McClellan
‘"a change of base,"’ or ‘"a strategic movement,"’ and known by others, not so conversant in military operations, as ‘"a headlong flight,"’ We found some difficulty in accounting for the manner in which the Yankee
soldiers had contrived to pick up so much Greek
; but our classical friend had a solution ready for the occasion.
He thinks the phrase was not invented by the soldiers, but by some wild college boy, who used it to express the scattering
of a company of boys engaged in some mischievous prank when a professor suddenly appears in their midst.
From the college it passed into multitude and was thus drawn into general use. The genealogical tree of ‘"skedaddle"’ is quite respectable, if such be the proposetus. Whether it be or not, we leave to the consideration of scholars and antiquaries.
The theory has at least the merit of being very ingenious.