Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 12:12:10 -0500 From: Jesse T Sheidlower Subject: Re: skell Larry Horn wrote: > subways, whether or not of criminal inclination. One question that arises > now is whether we might anticipate an extended use to other cities that > don't have subways open all night: will a "skell" be any vagrant? Any > small-time hood (following the apparent use on NYPD Blue)? Has anyone > encountered a non-NYC use of the word? I don't have any _reliable_ non-NYC attestations, but do have a number of cites in broader senses along the lines of 'lowlife; dirtbag' as well as 'low-level criminal' (when these can be distinguished). Despite its often being defined as 'vagrant sleeping in subways', I think this stems more from the specificity of the 1982 N.Y. Times citation that has been frequently requoted, as David points out, than from actual usage. That is, I think the sense 'vagrant sleeping in subway' is factitious. I also think that the frequent use of the word on NYPD Blue and Brooklyn South will probably help it spread to non-NYC communities. Jesse Sheidlower