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Skimmington

To ride the skimmington, or Riding the stang. To be hen-pecked. Grose tells us that the man rode behind the woman, with his face to the horse's tail. The man held a distaff, and the woman beat him about the jowls with a ladle. As the procession passed a house where the woman was paramount, each gave the threshold a sweep. The “stang” was a pole supported by two stout lads, across which the rider was made to stride. Mr. Douce derives “skimmington” from the skimming -ladle with which the rider was buffeted. The custom was not peculiar to Scotland and England; it prevailed in Scandinavia; and Hoefnagel, in his Views in Seville (1591), shows that it existed in Spain also. The procession is described at length in Hudibras, pt. ii. ch. ii.

“ `Hark ye, Dame Ursley Suddlechop,' said Jenkin, starting up, his eyes flashing with anger: `remember, I am none of your husband, and if I were you would do well not to forget whose threshold was swept when they last rode the skimmington upon such another scolding jade at yourself.' ” —Scott: Fortunes of Nigel.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Skimmington from Infoplease:

  • Skimmington - Skimmington To ride the skimmington, or Riding the stang. To be hen-pecked. Grose tells us that the ...
  • Sweep - Sweep To sweep the threshold. To announce to all the world that the woman of the house is ...
  • Stang - Stang To ride the stang. To be under petticoat government. At one time a man who ill-treated his ...
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