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Skell Slang

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Will, an emergency medical technician in Queens, New York, offers this bit of lingo from his line of work: skell, meaning a “lowlife.” In South African slang, the word skelm means the same thing. Will and his colleagues also use the term skell gel to mean “hand sanitizer.” The 17th-century English term skelder meant “someone who would feign an injury in order to be a more effective panhandler or con artist.” This word likely isn’t related to modern skell because there’s a centuries-long gap between its use then and when skell pops up in Brooklyn in the mid-20th century. This is part of a complete episode.

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