big skate


  1. See under skate2.

noun, plural (especially collectively) skate, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) skates.

  1. any of several rays of the genus Raja, usually having a pointed snout, as R. binoculata (big skate), inhabiting waters along the Pacific coast of the U.S., growing to a length of 8 feet (2.4 meters).


  1. See roller skate, ice skate
  2. the steel blade or runner of an ice skate
  3. such a blade fitted with straps for fastening to a shoe
  4. a current collector on an electric railway train that collects its current from a third railCompare bow collector
  5. get one’s skates on to hurry

verb (intr)

  1. to glide swiftly on skates
  2. to slide smoothly over a surface
  3. skate on thin ice to place oneself in a dangerous or delicate situation

noun plural skate or skates

  1. any large ray of the family Rajidae, of temperate and tropical seas, having flat pectoral fins continuous with the head, two dorsal fins, a short spineless tail, and a long snout


  1. US slang a person; fellow

“type of flat, cartilaginous fish, a kind of ray,” mid-14c., from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse skata “skate,” Danish skade, Faeroese skøta, of unknown origin.


“ice skate,” 1660s, skeates “ice skates,” from Dutch schaats (plural schaatsen), a singular mistaken in English for plural, from Middle Dutch schaetse. The word and the custom were brought to England after the Restoration by exiled followers of Charles II who had taken refuge in Holland.

The Dutch word is from Old North French escache “a stilt, trestle,” related to Old French eschace “stilt” (French échasse), from Frankish *skakkja “stilt” or a similar Germanic source (cf. Frisian skatja “stilt”), perhaps literally “thing that shakes or moves fast” and related to root of Old English sceacan “to vibrate” (see shake (v.)). Or perhaps [Klein] the Dutch word is connected to Middle Low German schenke, Old English scanca “leg” (see shank). Sense alteration in Dutch from “stilt” to “skate” is not clearly traced. Sense in English extended to roller-skates by 1876. Meaning “an act of skating” is from 1853.


1690s, “to ice-skate,” from skate (n.2). U.S. slang sense of “to get away with something” is attested from 1945. Related: Skated; skating.

In addition to the idiom beginning with skate

  • skate over

also see:

  • cheap skate
  • on thin ice, skate
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