Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
A villain or scoundrel; the cant term for a thief.
"O Tam! had'st thou but been sae wise, As taen thy ain wife Kate's advice! She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum, A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;"
Tam o'Shanter, Burns
SKELLUM: n, (contemptuous term for a man, now sometimes playfully to a boy) a scamp, rogue, scoundrel [late 18th to 20th.] [obsolete English slang, Dutch "schelm"]
Source: The Concise Scots Dictionary 1987, pub. Aberdeen University Press
Once more Sam makes history, OED: skelm 1663 PEPYS Diary 3 Apr., He ripped up Hugh Peters (calling him the execrable skellum).
Also 7 skelum, scellum, schellam, 7- skellum, skelm, 7-9 schellum, 9 skellam, 9- schelm, 20 skilum. For examples attributed to German speakers see SCHELM. [ad. Du. schelm ( m), a. G. schelm rascal, devil, pestilence, carcass, etc. (MHG. schelme, OHG. scelmo): cf. SCHELM. ON. skelmir, Da. skelm, Sw. skälm are from LG.] A. n. 1. A rascal, scamp, scoundrel, villain. Now arch. (except in S. Afr.).
1611 B. JONSON Coryat's Crudities Introd. Verses, Going to steal 'em He findeth soure graspes and gripes from a Dutch Skelum.
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