Many think these words have some vague reference to Scottish people. It actually does not. In the thirteenth century, scot was the word for money you would pay at a tavern for food and drinks. It was also used when they passed the hat to pay an entertainer.
Later, it came to mean a local tax that paid the sheriff’s expenses.
To go scot-free literally meant to be exempted from paying this tax.
Jul 16, 2010
Many people think that getting off 'scot free' refers to Scottish people being tight with money, but word “scot” is an old Norse word which means payment, specifically a payment made to a landlord or sheriff. So this phrase means what most people think it means, but has no connection to the Scottish people. It just means to get off without having to pay.