on the skids


a plank, bar, log, or the like, especially one of a pair, on which something heavy may be slid or rolled along.
one of a number of such logs or timbers forming a skidway.
a low mobile platform on which goods are placed for ease in handling, moving, etc. Compare stillage.
a plank, log, low platform, etc., on or by which a load is supported.
any of a number of parallel beams or timbers fixed in place as a raised support for boats, spars, etc.
any of a number of timbers on which a heavy object is placed to be shoved along on rollers or slid.
an arrangement of planks serving as a runway for cargo.
an arrangement of planks serving as a fender to protect the side of a vessel during transfer of cargo.
sidewise motion of a vessel; leeway.
a shoe or some other choke or drag for preventing the wheel of a vehicle from rotating, as when descending a hill.
a runner on the under part of some airplanes, enabling the aircraft to slide along the ground when landing.
an unexpected or uncontrollable sliding on a smooth surface by something not rotating, especially an oblique or wavering veering by a vehicle or its tires: The bus went into a skid on the icy road.
verb (used with object), skidded, skidding.
to place on or slide along a skid.
to check the motion of with a skid: She skidded her skates to a stop.
to cause to go into a skid: to skid the car into a turn.
verb (used without object), skidded, skidding.
to slide along without rotating, as a wheel to which a brake has been applied.
to slip or slide sideways, as an automobile in turning a corner rapidly.
to slide forward under the force of momentum after forward motion has been braked, as a vehicle.
(of an airplane when not banked sufficiently) to slide sideways, away from the center of the curve described in turning. Compare slip1 ( def 15 ).
on the skids, Slang. in the process of decline or deterioration: His career is on the skids.
put the skids under, Informal. to bring about the downfall of; cause to fail: Lack of money put the skids under our plans.
the skids, Informal. the downward path to ruin, poverty, or depravity: After losing his job he began to hit the skids.

1600–10; 1925–30 for def 18; apparently < Old Norse skith (noun), cognate with Old English scīd thin slip of wood; see ski

skiddingly, adverb
antiskidding, adjective

9, 12. slip. 13. slither.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
skid (skɪd)
vb , skids, skidding, skidded
1.  to cause (a vehicle) to slide sideways or (of a vehicle) to slide sideways while in motion, esp out of control
2.  (intr) to slide without revolving, as the wheel of a moving vehicle after sudden braking
3.  (US), (Canadian) (tr) to put or haul on a skid, esp along a special track
4.  to cause (an aircraft) to slide sideways away from the centre of a turn when insufficiently banked or (of an aircraft) to slide in this manner
5.  an instance of sliding, esp sideways
6.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) one of the logs forming a skidway
7.  a support on which heavy objects may be stored and moved short distances by sliding
8.  a shoe or drag used to apply pressure to the metal rim of a wheel to act as a brake
9.  on the skids in decline or about to fail
[C17: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare ski]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, "beam or plank on which something rests," probably from a Scandinavian source akin to O.N. skið "stick of wood" (see ski). A skid as something used to facilitate downhill motion (cf. skid row) led to fig. phrases such as hit the skids "go into rapid decline" (1920).

1674, "apply a skid to (a wheel, to keep it from turning)," from skid (n.). Meaning "slide along" first recorded 1838; extended sense of "slip sideways" (on a wet road, etc.) first recorded 1884 (the noun in this sense is attested from 1907). The original notion is of a block
of wood for stopping a wheel; the modern senses are from the notion of a wheel slipping when blocked from revolving.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on the skids

In the process of decline or ruin, as in If she quit now, her career would be on the skids. The skids here are runners such as those on a sled, enabling one to go downhill quickly. [c. 1920]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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