skid row

Idioms & Phrases

skid row

A squalid district inhabited by derelicts and vagrants; also, a life of impoverished dissipation. For example, That part of town is our skid row, or His drinking was getting so bad we thought he was headed for skid row. This expression originated in the lumber industry, where it signified a road or track made of logs laid crosswise over which logs were slid. Around 1900 the name Skid Road was used for the part of a town frequented by loggers, which had many bars and brothels, and by the 1930s the variant skid row, with its current meaning, came into use.

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