Skimmington was also the name given to the act of "beating actors with spoons." Hitting fellow actors (lightly) with wooden spoons before the performance of a play was a precursor to the tradition of instructing a fellow thespian to break a leg.

Skim"ming*ton (?), n. [Etymol. uncertain. Perhaps the name of some notorius scold.]

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.

 

© Webster 1913.

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