skived and wagged off / play truant [skip school]

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susanna76

Senior Member
Romanian
Hi there,

Here are two words that stopped me in my tracks as I was reading (Veronica Henry's Marriage and Other Games): "skived and wagged off"
I learned skive (intr, often foll by off ) means "informal ( Brit ) to evade (work or responsibility)" [dictionary.com]
and wag
British Slang. to play truant; play hooky. [dictionary.com]
OR
Austral./NZ play truant from (school). [WR dictionary]

So, is wag used a lot in the UK (with this meaning)? Why doesn't the WR dictionary mention that? Also, is that "off" obligatory? Neither dictionary mentions it.

Thank you!
 
  • Thelb4

    Senior Member
    UK English
    To 'skive' is commonly used in British slang to mean 'play truant'. However, I have never heard of "wag" or "wag off" meaning this.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The dictionary says OR - AUS/NZ to play truant. I have never heard of wag used in the UK with that sense, just skiving (off) used as described, as well as for playing truant. I think it can be used without off.

    You skiving again then?

    Hermione
     
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    susanna76

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Thank you all:). Skive it is. Hermione: That OR in there is mine, to separate between the two dictionary entries. I'm glad I didn't rely on the Random House Dictionary on dictionary.com, the one which gives wag as British Slang.
     

    Yolandabfsu1213

    Member
    Chinese-China
    Hi all,

    Can I ask what is the formal British expression for playing truant?

    Here is a sentence (also the context):

    Finding that her son was playing truant, the mother was indignant.

    Since this sentence is translated by non-native speaker, I am not sure if it's authentic. To use play truant and indignant together seems a bit odd to me.

    <-----Additional question removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->

    Thanks in advance!
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I have heard "wag" and its East Yorkshire variant "twag".
    Can I ask what is the formal British expression for playing truant?
    Yes, it is "As a pupil, to be absent, without authorisation or good cause, from a primary or secondary educational establishment."
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi Yolanda
    I don't know any more formal way of saying 'playing truant'. It isn't really slang compared with 'skiving', 'playing hooky', 'skipping class', and so on.

    I'm not sure why you think 'indignant' is 'odd'. We have absolutely no context to explain why this word has been chosen. Perhaps she was paranoid and thought the school attendance officers were out to get her and her son.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    to be absent, without authorisation or good cause, from a primary or secondary educational establishment."
    Yes, good point, but I really can't imagine reading "The mother was indignant to learn that her son had been absent without authorisation or good cause, from a primary or secondary educational establishment." Maybe this language would be found in a law court, if the parent were accused of "failing to ensure a child's attendance ..." . I haven't checked the exact legal terminology of the charge.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But you can imagine it in a formal situation - a court, at a police station, in an official warning letter, etc. ;)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Can I ask what is the formal British expression for playing truant?

    Here is a sentence (also the context):

    Finding that her son was playing truant, the mother was indignant.
    "Truant" is the formal word. It is the expression with "playing" that seems to be "mixed register."
    Finding that her son had been truant, the mother was indignant.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    That is not how we say it, not 'usage'. I'd assume that someone who said this was not a native speaker, not a BE speaker anyway, and I wouldn't accept it as correct idiom from a student.
    Do you say "playing truant" though? Americans wouldn't. That's what I'm trying to ask.
    In American English, "He is playing hooky." (informal) or "He is truant." (formal)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes Myridon, "playing truant" is the standard BE expression for a school-age person who chooses not to go to school. I would have no problem with "he is a truant".
    I myself was a truant/'played truant' on several occasions when me and my best friend decided we would rather go to the Wednesday afternoon matinee of a musical starring our heart-throb singer, than play field-hockey on the top of a hill in the middle of winter blasted by freezing winds straight over the North Sea from Scandinavia.
    Thank goodness nobody noticed our absence.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ...Can I ask what is the formal British expression for playing truant?

    Here is a sentence (also the context):

    Finding that her son was playing truant, the mother was indignant.

    Since this sentence is translated by non-native speaker, I am not sure if it's authentic. To use play truant and indignant together seems a bit odd to me. ...
    "Playing truant" is OK, though it just seems a wee bit old-fashioned to me.

    Today, I think that in a relatively formal context I'd expect "truant" as a verb:
    Finding that her son was truanting...
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    My first reaction to "skive" is the angle cut used in leather work. It is almost like peeling off an acute angle of leather. Here is an image:



    I can't help but think that "cutting classes" (USA) and "skiving" have to be related to this. It does in my mind.
     

    Yolandabfsu1213

    Member
    Chinese-China
    Thanks, everyone, for your reply!

    I am so sorry that I did not make it clear. :oops:

    The context: there is a famous anecdote about a great thinker, Mencius, in ancient China. Mencius was born into a poor family yet he used to play truant when he was young. In ancient times in China (and still at present), studying hard is considered as the essential way to move up the social ladder. I think almost every culture attaches great importance to hard work, but Chinese parents seem to stress 'studying hard' even more (e.g. Tiger Mother). So Mencius' mother was upset and furious when she found out that her son had skipped school again.

    The original story is written in a formal tone, or at least a serious one. Then I expect the English translation to be formal, too. When I read the quoted sentence, "Finding that her son was playing truant, the mother was indignant", I reckon that "play truant" and "indignant" does not match in terms of stylistic meaning, for "play truant" is a British slang while "indignant" seems to be more formal than the commonly used "angry". (I made this judgement from the sample sentences given by dictionaries).

    But perhaps I have it wrong due to my stereotype that slangs are less formal. As Hermione Golightly has pointed out, there seems to be no other more formal way.

    And I thank Loob for her illuminating suggestion of using "truant" as a verb. Also thanks to other members for your excellent alternatives. I have so many expressions to choose from when I do my own translation next time!
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Maybe "truant" is not the best word for this.

    Finding that her son was skipping classes, his mother was...[angry, furious, indignant, upset]

    Learning that her son was avoiding school...

    Indignant because her son was [choose activity] instead of attending classes...
     
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