A second explanation and probably the one more people believe was its origin has to do with the people of Scotland. The Scotsmen were not spend-thrifts! They are known to be very careful of how they spend their money. In relationship to this believed origin some understand correctly that the term has something to do with taxes. Hence they assume it meant when someone of Scotland got out of paying his taxes then he was “Scot free.”
HOWEVER, it turns out that neither of those supposed origins were the correct one. The word “Scot,” as used in that expression is derived from the Scandinavian word “Skat” which pertained to tax or its payment. The British borrowed the word as “scot” of redistributing taxes as far back as the 10th century. Hence it is “scot free,” not “Scott free.”
“Scot free” has come to mean getting away with something; without having to pay, or to escape punishment.
Dub Mowery is a Gospel preacher in the Church of Christ. A native of Southeast Oklahoma, he is the author of Colloquial Sayings & Expressions (Morris Publishing, 2008)