Green’s Dictionary of Slang

skate v.1

1. (also do a skate, skate off, skeet, skeete, skite) to rush off, to leave at speed, to go quickly.

[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 97: You must skeete, even if you have to cut high-dutchers with your irons loose.
[US]W.E. Burton Waggeries and Vagaries 77: Skeet, every daddy’s babby of you.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 20: Me business was t’ skate up t’ de lady, kneel down, grab her hand.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 62: Get your rags on, skate down there an’ holler out he’s mugged.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 225: I always do that with my fingers when I’m skating down the stairs.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 589: skite, v. To hurry. ‘You skite, now.’.
[US](con. 1908) Ethel Lynn Adventures of a Woman Hobo 83: You might be able to skate right through to Frisco in a week.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 115: You been skating round the tiles again, have you?
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 239/1: skate – get going.
[UK]A. Baron Lowlife (2001) 174: You have a marvellous dog. He is going to skate home. You know his form, he always breaks away fast.
[UK]S. Berkoff East in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 68: [The bus] spins around the Centre point Synagogue and skates down Holborn.
[UK]Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 71: The other day I picked up a quick half-bar through backing a good thing in the National. It skated home.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 103/1: skate phr. do a skate to disappear hurriedly; aka skate off.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

2. (orig. US black) to get away with anything, to shirk one’s responsibilities, esp. to avoid paying one’s debts.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US]S. Greenlee Spook who Sat by the Door (1972) 17: He had been an athlete who had skated through college on his fame.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Short Timers (1985) 11: Only shitbirds try to avoid work, only shitbirds try to skate.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 129: Skate – to go through a ticket barrier on the underground without paying.
[US]D. Simon Homicide (1993) 331: They could both skate any controversy by sacrificing Worden.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 202: No racist white man muhfuh born of a woman would dis him and skate.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] A dealer talks to you for money or drugs, to skate on a charge or to fuck a rival dealer.

3. to perform or make something, e.g. an essay or a meal, quickly.

[US]Current Sl. I:3 7/1: Skate, v. To hurry [...] I skated through that test.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 6: skate [...] to put little effort into something.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 110: You can skate along if you’re paddy [...] but with us it’s the reverend thing or your behind.

4. (US prison) to be in a forbidden area of the prison.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Skating: Being in an area of the prison you are not allowed, especially another housing unit. Being ‘out of place’.

In derivatives

skater (n.)

(US) one who runs off (and escapes paying a bill).

[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 28 Jan. [synd. col.] There are many prominent skaters in the Tenderloin, but their skating is of quite a different variety [i.e. to ice-skating], although they are quite proficient in weaving in and out of swinging doors.

In phrases

skate on (v.)

to take advantage of.

[US](con. 1970) J.M. Del Vecchio 13th Valley (1983) 286: That slimy prick’s skatin’ on us.
skate off (v.)

see sense 1 above.