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EnglishEdit

PronunciationEdit

 
A pet brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). A rat would make a skittering sound (sense 2) if it ran on a hard surface.

Etymology 1Edit

Possibly a frequentative of skite (to move lightly and hurriedly; to move suddenly, particularly in an oblique direction) (Scotland, Northern England). The noun is derived from the verb.

VerbEdit

skitter (third-person singular simple present skitters, present participle skittering, simple past and past participle skittered)

  1. (intransitive) To move hurriedly or as by bouncing or twitching; to scamper, to scurry.
    I opened the cabinet and a number of cockroaches went skittering off into the darkness.
    • 1882, Theodore Roosevelt, “Waterfowl”, in Hunting Trips of a Ranchman; Hunting Trips on the Prairie and in the Mountains, New York, N.Y.; London: The Co-operative Publication Society, OCLC 864725939; republished as Hunting Trips of a Ranchman: Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle Plains, Medora edition, New York, N.Y.; London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1885, OCLC 15363308, page 56:
      Some kinds of ducks in lighting strike the water with their tails first, and skitter along the surface for a few feet before settling down.
  2. (intransitive) To make a scratching or scuttling noise while, or as if, skittering.
    • 2017 January 20, Annie Zaleski, “AFI Sounds Refreshed and Rejuvenated on Its 10th Album, AFI (The Blood Album)”, in The A.V. Club[1]:
      Both "Dark Snow" and "Aurelia" [by AFI] feature subtle washes of brittle piano à la Decemberunderground, while "She Speaks The Language" boasts a skittering electronic underbelly, and eerie synths are suspended like low clouds in "Above The Bridge."
  3. (transitive) To move or pass (something) over a surface quickly so that it touches only at intervals; to skip, to skite.
    • 1883, James A[lexander] Henshall, “Black Bass Fishing”, in Alfred M[arshall] Mayer, editor, Sport with Gun and Rod in American Woods and Waters, New York, N.Y.: The Century Company, OCLC 1158760, page 394:
      "Skittering," continued the Professor, "is practiced with a strong line about the length of the rod, to which is affixed a small trolling-spoon, a minnow, or a piece of pork-rind cut in the rude semblance of a small fish. The boat is poled along, as in ‘bobbing,’ but farther out in the stream, when the angler, standing in the bow, ‘skitters’ or skips the spoon or bait over the surface just at the edge of the weeds.
SynonymsEdit
TranslationsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

NounEdit

skitter (plural skitters)

  1. (also figuratively) A skittering movement.
    A skitter of activity.
    A skitter of gooseflesh.
    • 1976 June 3, John Hillaby, “Out and About: Firebird”, in Bernard Dixon, editor, New Scientist, volume 70, number 1003, London: New Science Publications, ISSN 0262-4079, OCLC 859585139, page 543, column 1:
      I had seen an aerial helix of raptors, hawks and harriers riding a thermal, and below them a skitter of ringed plover and other waders, together with more kingfishers than I had ever seen before.
    • 2003, David Adams Richards, River of the Brokenhearted, Toronto, Ont.: Doubleday Canada, ISBN 978-0-385-65887-4; 1st US edition, New York, N.Y.: Arcade Publishing, 2004, ISBN 978-1-55970-712-1, pages 298–299:
      Each day that I went, he stood off by himself, in solitude, came politely to the tee on his own, whacked to the right and left in a skitter of balls, his hair pinched in a clubhouse golf cap that didn't fit, his mouth in grim determination to not make an utter fool of himself, his golf clubs' vinyl bag with the ticket attached to signal his beginner's fees were paid.
    • 2010, Julie Lessman, A Hope Undaunted: A Novel (Winds of Change; 1), Grand Rapids, Mich.: Revell Books, Baker Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-8007-3415-2, pages 213–214:
      With a skitter of excitement, Marcy glanced at the clock on the parlor mantel. It chimed ten, and her gaze flicked to the face of her husband as he lounged in his favorite chair with a newspaper in his lap.

Etymology 2Edit

A frequentative of skite (to defecate, to shit) (archaic, vulgar). The noun is derived from the verb.

VerbEdit

skitter (third-person singular simple present skitters, present participle skittering, simple past and past participle skittered)

  1. (transitive, Northern England, Scotland) To cause to have diarrhea.
    • 1970, James Herriot [pseudonym; James Alfred Wright], If Only They Could Talk, London: Michael Joseph, ISBN 978-0-7181-0763-5:
      "[…] I'd like you to give the calves two heaped tablespoonfuls [of Epsom salts] three times a day." / "Oh 'ell, you'll skitter the poor buggers to death!" / "Maybe so, but there's nothing else for it," I said.
  2. (intransitive, Northern England, Scotland) To suffer from a bout of diarrhea; to produce thin excrement.
    • 1875 August 3, Thomas Walley, “The Differentiation in the Characters and Symptoms of Gastro-intestinal Affections”, in George Fleming, editor, The Veterinary Journal and Annals of Comparative Pathology, volume I, London: Baillière, Tindall & Cox, King William Street, Strand [et al.], published October 1875, OCLC 7513817, page 244:
      As a symptomatic phenomenon, Diarrhœa is skittering, i.e., the discharges are composed of water, intermingled with particles of imperfectly digested food; from two to six or eight discharges may thus take place, and it is an invariable precursor of constipation.
    • 2001, Peter Kerr, “Wood for Thought”, in Mañana, Mañana: One Mallorcan Summer, Chichester, West Sussex: Summersdale Publishers, ISBN 978-1-84024-163-1:
      And when health problems struck, as they inevitably would, no matter how attentive the farmer, the tree had to be nursed until it was better. [] Jeez, and I'd thought mothering week-old orphan calves back in Scotland had been a headache! Still, at least a tree couldn't skitter diarrhoea down the front of your jeans, or bellow to be bucket-fed warm milk in the middle of the night, so that was a bonus.

NounEdit

skitter (plural skitters)

  1. (Scotland, Northern England, uncountable) Often skitters: the condition of suffering from diarrhea; thin excrement.
    • 2013, Cathal McCosker, “Wild Men Appear”, in Man Up and Paddle!: A Wild and Dangerous Circumnavigation around Ireland, [Morrisville, N.C.?]: Lulu, ISBN 978-1-300-83799-2, page 43:
      I can't give it my immediate attention, as the cow has the skitter (diarrhoea) and I'm waiting on the Vit (vet).
    • 2014, Mango Gorman, “God Demands a Holocaust”, in Bone and Blood: A Berlin Novel, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire: Matador, ISBN 978-1-78462-037-0, page 56:
      Shaking but making herself stand there while skitter ran down the inside of her legs. She learnt German early from Anna. Durchfall easier to spell than Diarrhoea. Falling liquid brown.