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Is "skirt" still used as slang for "woman"?
February 11, 2008 3:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping edit a dictionary, and I just got to the skirt entry, which contains the definition "informal: women regarded as sexually desirable." Now, I'm in my fifties and I think of that sense as "before my time," but before I go and tell them to add "dated" I want to double-check with the hip young MeFi crowd: do you know anybody younger than Grandpa Simpson who talks about "chasing skirt"?
posted by languagehat to Writing & Language (91 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure about elsewhere, but I and many people I know still use it on occasion and have since high school (I'm 24). Rural southeastern PA, and also central PA.
posted by Loto at 3:41 PM on February 11, 2008


No.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by unclejeffy at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2008


Not in Boston, Providence, or San Francisco.
posted by svolix at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2008


yes
posted by jmnugent at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2008


No.
posted by sweetkid at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2008


I don't hear it much any more (except in old movies, and among my friends who use older terms for fun), so I'd say it's dated. But then I'm a 35-year-old bird, so I don't think I'm really part of the young and hip MeFi crowd.
posted by doubtful_guest at 3:45 PM on February 11, 2008


I think the Beastie Boys used it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:45 PM on February 11, 2008


No, (San Diego, San Francisco) except of course as an intentional quoting of it's dated usage.
posted by vacapinta at 3:45 PM on February 11, 2008


I think it's in fairly common usage in British English - it certainly was in the '80s and '90s. To what extent that's a jocular usage of dated language I can't say, but "chasing skirt" and "a bit of skirt" are fairly widespread.
posted by nowonmai at 3:45 PM on February 11, 2008


I still hear that usage, but I only hear it from guys I term "70 year-old wannabes." You know the type...

And gahd, but you have an awesome job; I'm so jealous!
posted by heyho at 3:47 PM on February 11, 2008


I use it semi-ironically ("a time when men were men, women were skirts and THE RED DEATH HELD SWAY OVER ALL").
posted by Lucinda at 3:47 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ehh...I could see it, but only from the friends who also smoke pipes while lounging in waistcoats. "Dated" seems fine.
posted by hippugeek at 3:48 PM on February 11, 2008


appropriate, probably not
passable, perhaps
posted by DJWeezy at 3:48 PM on February 11, 2008


No. Dated captures it fine.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2008


Well not very often, but my 27 year old quite promiscuous friend sometimes refers to potentially bedable women as "skirts". He's also from PA - maybe thats a regional thing. I wouldnt use it except in jest and I am neither young nor hip.
posted by elendil71 at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2008


No. It's only used by us (late-twenties to late-forties, mixed-race, fairly leftie, mixed-income bracket crowd) when using it to point out anachronistic dating or flirting techniques.
posted by barometer at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2008


Nope
posted by slow graffiti at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2008


Never have heard it used (outside of dated material) in Virginia, Missouri, or Arkansas.
posted by Atreides at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2008


Definitely dated. I'd know what someone meant if they said it, but it's find it quite strange, unless (as others have said) they were deliberately trying to be anachronistic.
posted by Nelsormensch at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 19, didn't even know the word could be used like that. (Although in context, it would make sense.)
posted by theiconoclast31 at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2008


I think it's in fairly common usage in British English

Right, I should have made it clear this is supposed to be an American dictionary (I'm catching all sorts of UK uses that have slipped through, like sirloin defined as a cut from the loin instead of the hindquarter). But I see some of the people who say "yes" are from the US, so maybe it's a regional thing, as elendil71 suggests.

(I can't believe this has gotten 17 responses in 12 minutes!)
posted by languagehat at 3:54 PM on February 11, 2008


Hmm. I've still heard it used in the context of a noun: a skirt-chaser. It's a little dated, but certainly in use.

I'm 24, in the U.S. Midwest.
posted by limeonaire at 3:58 PM on February 11, 2008


(I can't believe this has gotten 17 responses in 12 minutes!)

But... you're the hat, dude!

And I have only ever heard it used in old movies, and perhaps ironically by people younger than Grandpa Simpson.
posted by The Deej at 4:01 PM on February 11, 2008


If you want skirts sit back and observe.
From Warren G and Nate Dogg's "Regulate," 1994.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:01 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've only heard it used in the knowingly ironic sense of someone using it anachronistically.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:01 PM on February 11, 2008


I'd call it current, but I'm in Aus, not the US.
posted by pompomtom at 4:02 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm pretty sure I heard it used unironically in The Wire, by a fictional early-40s drug kingpin in Baltimore. Otherwise, pretty dated.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2008


No.
posted by srrh at 4:07 PM on February 11, 2008


Not in Chicago.

For whatever good selective answering does you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:08 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 23 from the US midwest.

I've heard it used, but always (or at least almost) with implicit reference to it's datedness. In other words, people know what it means, but if they use it, it's in a slightly ironic manner because it's dated, and I think most listeners pick up on this. People can and do use many other dated slang terms like "square", "far out", "egghead", "groovy", and many others. So it's dated, but not so much that people don't understand it, but still enough that if you use it, in my experience, it's for a subtle ironic purpose.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:08 PM on February 11, 2008


26, southeast: I know what it means and have heard it before for sure, but if someone used it (and not while trying to sound pomo and self-deprecating), I would probably chuckle at how out-of-it they sounded.
posted by penduluum at 4:08 PM on February 11, 2008


I hear it sometimes in the phrase "skirt chaser," yeah.

But outside that phrase, I haven't heard it used once. What — people used to say things like "Let's go talk to those skirts"? I could have figured out what it meant, I guess, but it sure doesn't sound at all familiar.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:10 PM on February 11, 2008


I'd call it retro rather than dated. I think "skirt-chaser" is still in common usage, though.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:11 PM on February 11, 2008


If I heard somebody use it, I wouldn't be surprised to see them wearing a fedora.
posted by box at 4:13 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 39. I quit a job at UPS because the boss called all the women who worked there "skirts." This was in 1985 or so. He would have been about 40 then. I don't think he meant it in the sexually desirable way, fwiw.
posted by jessamyn at 4:15 PM on February 11, 2008


Also, in its original American usage, I've heard it used more in the singular: "a skirt"= "an attractive woman"; "He's off chasing a skirt" rather than "chasing skirt."
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:16 PM on February 11, 2008


No.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:18 PM on February 11, 2008


Well, urbandictionary.com has an entry for "skirt." It includes definitions I didn't know, including "skirt" as slang for "a mildly above average slut."

Just a data point.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 43 and in the US Midwest. I hear "skirt-chaser" frequently, but I only hear "skirt" from older (65+ probably) men. I don't think I ever hear it used in such a way that its datedness is being pointed out.
posted by worldswalker at 4:25 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 19 and while I'm aware of what "chasing skirt" means, I've never heard anyone (a real person, not someone in a movie, book, etc.) use it seriously.
posted by brittanyq at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2008


I think Tony Soprano said it.
posted by mattbucher at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2008


Yes on occasion in civilian life, but especially in the army reserves, at least according to my lady friend who was serving in Iraq for a year where she heard it being used frequently by the lads in her unit.
posted by Jezztek at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2008


I've never heard it used here (New Zealand) in a non-ironic non-faux-archaic context.
posted by Paragon at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2008


I still use the word "icebox" to mean the fridge (not the freezer) and even I have never used this term, although I know it. (Chicago via Ann Arbor, New Haven, Urbana, and Philadelphia)
posted by nax at 4:43 PM on February 11, 2008


Don't forget 'frail'.
posted by DandyRandy at 4:44 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was in Mambo #5 by Lou Bega
posted by legotech at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2008


軟派 (なんぱ) ["nanpa" for font deficient browsers and those that don't read Japanese] (adj-na,n,vs) (1) flirt; scam; scope; skirt chaser; (2) moderate party; soft school;

yes, 38 from Virginia. Doesn't come up in conversation often, but first thing I think of when going out girl hunting.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:55 PM on February 11, 2008


I've only lived in LA, Chicago and San Francisco, with very little time in rural areas. I've only heard "skirt" used to jokingly refer to a woman, but heard the term "skirt chaser" all my life as a fairly common term.
posted by Gucky at 4:55 PM on February 11, 2008


It's a bit dated, sure.... but isn't anything in a book likely to deserve that label sooner or later. I mean, how the heck do you know when I'm reading it? :)

Sorry. Yeah, it's pretty Bogart, but the irony just makes it cool again. It's a cycle.
posted by rokusan at 4:56 PM on February 11, 2008


Also, I don't think it's ever been a slang term for "woman" as much as it's been a euphemism for "pussy."

What? Try your own word-substitution test!
posted by rokusan at 4:59 PM on February 11, 2008


20 y/o in the US midwest, I've never heard the term before.
posted by Quidam at 5:05 PM on February 11, 2008


i dont think its dated. i hear people use it. i think its a good word, and can be used quite appropriately.

30s
posted by gcat at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2008


It's not something I've heard on a daily basis, but it comes up in conversation every so often.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2008


well, i should say that i hear guys use it.
posted by gcat at 5:07 PM on February 11, 2008


Late 30s here. I occasionally hear it among friends of my cohort, but only with an implied wink to it being a dated/sexist term. (For example, a few weeks ago, a male friend asked me if I or a female friend of mine would be interested in accompanying him to a concert for which he unexpectedly had an extra ticket. "I just need a skirt for the night," he said.)
posted by scody at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2008


Thank you all very much for your input. It looks like in general it's not in use except as a conscious archaism, though there are pockets of continued use; I've queried adding a "dated" tag, and if I remember, I'll update the thread to let y'all know if they took it or not. Probably not. The life of a copyeditor...
posted by languagehat at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2008


"Skirt-chaser" is not yet dated, but "skirt (n)" is. When I say it in my head, I sound like Frank Sinatra.
posted by cmiller at 5:18 PM on February 11, 2008


In addition to the earlier "desirable woman" connotation, "skirt" has evolved to refer to any woman. There's a New Yorker cartoon from Feb. 13, 1995, in which an office receptionist announces to her boss, "A couple of suits and a skirt to see you."
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm 41, on the West Coast for seven years now - previous life was DC and New England (mostly MA). Never heard it, except in wink-wink-aren't-we-retro usage.
posted by rtha at 5:26 PM on February 11, 2008


Yes - Australia - skirt, tail, crumpet.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:38 PM on February 11, 2008


mid-atlantic, 20s, no
posted by lockestockbarrel at 5:40 PM on February 11, 2008


Yup, I'd know it...but I have read dictionaries for fun...so I am probably a bad example.
posted by Bibliogeek at 5:52 PM on February 11, 2008


Nthing the "skirt chaser and variants, but not just 'skirt'" theme. Early 20s midwesterner. And I more often hear "chasing tail", although that's also (usually) used in a self-consciously dated/sexist manner.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:54 PM on February 11, 2008


I'll agree with cmiller...skirt is dated but skirt chaser is not.
posted by mmascolino at 5:57 PM on February 11, 2008


negative
posted by milestogo at 6:01 PM on February 11, 2008


This is AskMetafilter—you'll have people telling you that they use "dames" and "gams" without irony.

It's a dated term.
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've never head "skirt" or "skirt-chaser" used outside of a dated context, and even that's been rare. (20, from Washington, DC)
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 6:03 PM on February 11, 2008


Lots of answers here. I'll speak for central NC and western MI. No. Not currently used as slang to mean woman in general. Occasionally employed specifically to sound dated.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2008


No. No, I don't. (Grew up in D.C. suburbs, 8 years in New England cities, now in Pittsburgh.)
posted by chinston at 6:08 PM on February 11, 2008


I've heard it in Australia, but wouldn't say it's all that common.

Whether or not people use the term is their pigeon.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:23 PM on February 11, 2008


It's a fantastic term; don't you dare let it die.

Mostly because Internet Genius Josh Allen used it to refer to me:
The [Sexiest Sentence Alive] Formula was hand-crafted by Dr. Graham J. Leuschke, who finally used his Ph.D in Mathematics for something other than chasing skirt. The Formula is as follows...

posted by gleuschk at 6:33 PM on February 11, 2008


you'll have people telling you that they use "dames" and "gams" without irony

Yeah, that'd be me, with "gams." Read and write for enough magazines and it'll be part of your [un-ironic] vocabulary, too...
posted by limeonaire at 7:13 PM on February 11, 2008


Yes, but with an ironic tinge. I love expressions with an ironic tinge.
posted by PhatLobley at 7:51 PM on February 11, 2008


I've heard it and used it.

Now excuse me, I must 23 skidoo. I left my mad money in my flivver.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Never without an article. (Canadian with so much time spent in the US that I don't remember, half of the time, what my native vocabulary or pronunciation is supposed to be... how do you say pecan, anyway?)
posted by blacklite at 8:56 PM on February 11, 2008


I've heard it, and I'd use it ironically. Marking it as archaic is a good idea.
posted by joshjs at 9:09 PM on February 11, 2008


I've heard it and used it, albeit infrequently. Don't think it's dated.
posted by aerotive at 9:12 PM on February 11, 2008


In the Bart's Friend Falls in Love episode of The Simpsons from 1992, there’s this:

Milhouse joins Bart in the treehouse. He brings Samantha along.

Samantha: Hi.
Bart: Hey, what's with the skirt?
Milhouse: I've brought friends to this treehouse before.
Bart: Yeah, but never a girl. What if I want to strut around nude?
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 10:55 PM on February 11, 2008


I've heard it used. I'd consider it vulgar or offensive usage, but (sadly) not dated.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:44 PM on February 11, 2008


you'll occasionally hear 'skirtchaser' to describe a horny guy, but even that's usually conciously retro.
posted by jonmc at 12:49 AM on February 12, 2008


I hear it, and being a non-native English speaker who only started learning English fifteen years ago, I certainly don't have any old-time language baggage. It seems to be "retro-cool" - I've heard Vince Vaughn (among others) use it in a sort of purposeful lounge lizard manner, as well as hearing it in a rather ironic sense in various mafia-oriented movies.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:09 AM on February 12, 2008


Heard it used only once by a friend who was trying to be pejorative and ironic.
posted by plinth at 5:30 AM on February 12, 2008


I've marked Dee Xtrovert's answer as "best" because I love the expressions "retro-cool" and "a sort of purposeful lounge lizard manner," plus they seem to sum up the general consensus on how the word gets used if and when it does.

Thanks again, all, I'm sittin' in the catbird seat!
posted by languagehat at 5:50 AM on February 12, 2008


Another Yes for use of Skirt.

Big shout out for the return of "frail"!
posted by arcticseal at 7:10 AM on February 12, 2008


I use it all the time, though I prefer "tomato."
posted by BenzeneChile at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2008


Setting aside the question of whether or not the song Regulate itself is dated, I can't tell that the use of "skirt" therein is ironic or retro. I had never thought about it before, but I guess Warren G. and Nate Dogg would be considered lounge lizards of a sort. I am lobbying for a best answer for Metroid Baby.
posted by clockwork at 10:46 AM on February 12, 2008


In New Orleans, yes. That doesn't mean it's not dated, though.
posted by rush at 11:03 AM on February 12, 2008


No: California, Texas, Washington & British Columbia.
posted by deborah at 11:08 AM on February 12, 2008


24 male in PHX: nope
posted by phritosan at 3:19 PM on February 14, 2008


24 y.o. male in MASS: No.

However, in Andean Spanish "flaca" (skirt) means a girl.
posted by mateuslee at 8:20 AM on March 22, 2008


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