Monday, June 21, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: slipshod \SLIP-SHOD\

1 : wearing loose shoes
2 : shabby
3 : careless, slovenly

The word "shod" is the past tense form of the verb "to shoe"; hence we can speak of shod horses and shod feet. When the word "slipshod" was first used in the late 1500s, it meant "wearing loose shoes or slippers" - such slippers were once called "slip-shoes" - and later it was used to describe shoes that were falling apart. By the early 1800s, "slipshod" was used more generally as a synonym for "shabby" - in 1818, Sir Walter Scott wrote about "the half-bound and slip-shod volumes of the circulating library." The association with shabbiness later shifted to an association with sloppiness, and by the end of the century the word was used to mean "careless" or "slovenly."

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