Also spelled “skulduggery,” this word means exactly what it sounds like: deceit, trickery, or dirty dealings.
SKULL DUG uh ree
Part of speech:
Noun, the uncountable kind: “their skullduggery,” “such skullduggery,” “a lot of skullduggery.”
None are in common use.
How to use it:
On the silly-to-serious scale, I’d say that “skullduggery” leans a bit toward the “silly” end, where we’d put “hanky-panky,” “razzle-dazzle,” and “flimflam,” and leans a bit away from the “serious” end, where we’d put “pretense,” “deception,” and “underhandedness.”
So, pick “skullduggery” when you need a giggle, not a guffaw.
Talk about someone’s skullduggery, or the skullduggery of some group.
Add an adjective, if you like: legal skullduggery, procedural skullduggery, political skullduggery, bureaucratic skullduggery.
“A referendum vote that defied every logical prediction. The resignation of a prime minister. The descent into recrimination and infighting of one of Britain’s major political parties. And in the other, an exhibition of Game of Thrones-like skullduggery. And Friday isn’t even over yet.”
— Dan Stewart, TIME, 1 July 2016
“Winners are determined by a set standard of popularity measurements — think all the fan frenzy of the American Music Awards mixed with all the skullduggery of Grammy voting.”
— August Brown, The Los Angeles Times, 7 April 2015