Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 14:44:02 -0500

From: Larry Horn laurence.horn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU

Subject: skell?

In response to a query from someone at a local newspaper here who's working

on a story about words entering the public lexicon from TV shows, I'm

wondering about the above, used on NYPD Blue and no doubt other hard-edge

cop shows of that ilk (Brooklyn South?) as a police-detective-jargon term

of art designating a low-life perp type of individual. (I haven't figured

out the exact meaning from the contexts in which it's used, but skells seem

never to be sympathetic sorts or unjustly accused suspects.) It's not in

the sources I've checked, and the relevant volume of DARE isn't out yet,

but I wonder whether it's at all related to the much earlier _skellum_

'scounder, rascal' cited in the OED. Is it a regionalism? anyone know?