1. The part of a garment, such as a dress or coat, that hangs freely from the waist down.
2. A garment hanging from the waist and worn especially by women and girls.
3. A part or attachment resembling the skirt of a garment, especially:
a. One of the leather flaps hanging from the side of a saddle.
b. The lower outer section of a rocket vehicle.
c. A flexible strip hanging from the base of an air-cushion vehicle.
d. A piece of fabric that extends over or beyond something to afford protection.
e. A spray skirt.
4. An outer edge; a border or margin: a base camp on the skirt of the mountain.
5. Offensive Slang A woman.
v. skirt·ed, skirt·ing, skirts
1. To lie along or form the edge of; border: the creek that skirts our property.
2. To pass around rather than across or through: changed their course to skirt the storm.
3. To pass close to; miss narrowly: The bullet skirted an artery.
4. To evade, as by circumlocution: skirted the controversial issue.
To lie along, move along, or be an edge or a border.
[Middle English, from Old Norse skyrta, shirt; see sker-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.