The Term “Scot Free” Has Nothing To Do With Scotsmen

Contrary to what you may think, “scot free” has nothing to do with Scotland or the Scots. The word “scot” in the expression dates back to the 1200s and means money (or a tax) assessed against someone, or somebody’s fair share of an expense. The expression was around in medieval times, when towns levied taxes in proportional shares for things like a poor fund. The tax was called a “scot,” and somebody who wriggled out of paying it got off “scot free.” Today it means either to avoid paying for something or to escape a punishment.