Home | Workforce | Strictly speaking | SCULL or SKULL


Despite different spellings, scull and skull can express the same meaning when – as verbs – they take a beer or two as their grammatical object. They are variants of skol, the Scandinavian toast used by English-speaking drinkers everywhere who indulge in skolling. Only in Australia does skol become a transitive verb (as in skol a beer) with its pronunciation adjusted so that it sounds more like scull/skull, though neither of those is related to the meaning of skol. The use of scull is explained by reference to student drinking rituals that challenge participants to down a bottle or can of beer in one draught, like the long stroke used in sculling a boat. A different explanation is given by the Minnesota Vikings, an American football team, which uses skol as its battle cry – supposedly like their eponymous heroes – to signify they hope to drink from the skulls of their victims at the end of the day. But the most likely source can be found in a Scottish homonym of skull (“cranium”) that refers to a drinking bowl, which found its way into early modern English. Since the Scandinavian skol also meant “a drinking bowl” (= skål in modern Swedish), there’s no need to invoke badass drinking customs to account for the spelling. But then, why waste a good story?

Written by emeritus professor Pam Peters, researcher with Macquarie University’s Centre for Language Sciences.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now


  1. Thanx very much for this which I found as informative and entertaining as the others.

  2. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it.

  3. Noble choice of aroma of the month and insigne singular of insignia books waiting to be discovered. All manumitted and at single’s disposal in most ereader formats.Reading is pleasant. It is more enjoyable to be familiar with books without paying a cent. We percentage a listing of websites to download books in PDF to usurp you …Free books online can be manly to find. These are the nicest places to pull down easy engage downloads, including societal kingdom books.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To continue onto Campus Review, please select your institution.