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Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person impersonating his/her offending spouse in a procession with the aim of ridicule.
  • n. A ludicrous procession for the purpose of ridiculing (a person's offending spouse).
  • n. A cuckold

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A word employed in the phrase, To ride Skimmington; that is to ride on a horse with a woman, but behind her, facing backward, carrying a distaff, and accompanied by a procession of jeering neighbors making mock music; a cavalcade in ridicule of a henpecked man. The custom was in vogue in parts of England.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A burlesque procession formerly held in ridicule of a henpecked husband; a cavalcade headed by a person on horseback representing the wife, with another representing the husband seated behind her, facing the horse's tail and holding a distaff, while the woman belabored him with a ladle.
  • n. A disturbance; a riot; a quarrel.
  • n. A charivari.

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Casterbridge were interrupted by an event of such magnitude that its influence reached to the lowest social stratum there, stirring the depths of its society simultaneously with the preparations for the skimmington.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • This was barred, and while the landlady was unfastening it the conversation about the skimmington was continued in the sitting-room, and reached his ears.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • Almost at the instant of her fall the rude music of the skimmington ceased.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • Up to this time he knew nothing of the skimmington-ride.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • Such was the state of things when the current affairs of Casterbridge were interrupted by an event of such magnitude that its influence reached to the lowest social stratum there, stirring the depths of its society simultaneously with the preparations for the skimmington.

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

  • Attorney-general, that there was danger of a skimmington between the great wig and the coif, the former having given a flat lie to the latter.

    The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 2

  • Have you, "he inquired, addressing the nearing shape of Jopp," have you seen any gang of fellows making a devil of a noise -- skimmington riding, or something of the sort? "

    The Mayor of Casterbridge

Comments

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  • "skymmington" seen here:

    "For example, an English charivari or 'skymmington'—a traditional festivity aimed at mocking, and sometimes threatening, some person or people—was conducted in 1618, accoridng to a contemporary account, by 'three or four hundred men, some like soldiers armed with pieces and other weapons,' and reached an ear-shattering crescendo when 'the gunners shot off their pieces, pipes and horns were sounded, together with lowbells and other smaller bells which the company had amongst them.' To the noble listening from his manor house or hte cleric hidden away in his rectory, the sound of armed revelry must have been profoundly unnerving."
    —Barbara Ehrenreich, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), 109

    March 14, 2009

  • Saw skimmington ride demonstrated in the "The Mayor of Casterbridge," a 1978 TV mini-series by the effigies of a couple characters. Being ridden out on the rails was obviously very painful.

    July 26, 2008

  • Isn't this the same as charivari? At least the rough music part? Actually despite WeirdNET's definition on that page, my understanding of charivari was that it's also used for shaming or mocking someone. I've never heard this term though. Cool.

    July 22, 2008

  • From Michael Quinion's World Wide Words -

    A noisy procession intended to bring ridicule on an erring husband or wife.

    In English towns this was a common way to express moral outrage at the actions of a member of a married couple, perhaps because the man was a wife-beater or the woman an adulterer. An important part of it was noise. Francis Grose described the way of it in his Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1796: “Saucepans, frying-pans, poker and tongs, marrow-bones and cleavers, bulls horns, etc. beaten upon and sounded in ludicrous processions�?. So crucial was this element that another name for the custom was rough music; yet another was ran-tanning, probably an echoic phrase.



    Effigies of the guilty parties were paraded through the streets on a cart or the back of a donkey; sometimes neighbours would impersonate them instead. It was this part of the custom that was the skimmington, or skimmington riding. The word is obscure, but probably derives from a skimming ladle, shown in early illustrations wielded by an enraged wife. The custom is recorded from the seventeenth century onwards, in Pepys’s diary for example, and there’s a good description in Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge of 1884:


    The numerous lights round the two effigies threw them up into lurid distinctness; it was impossible to mistake the pair for other than the intended victims. “Come in, come in,�? implored Elizabeth; “and let me shut the window!�? “She’s me — she’s me — even to the parasol — my green parasol!�? cried Lucetta with a wild laugh as she stepped in. She stood motionless for one second — then fell heavily to the floor. Almost at the instant of her fall the rude music of the skimmington ceased. The roars of sarcastic laughter went off in ripples, and the trampling died out like the rustle of a spent wind.

    July 22, 2008