Ink Pen by Phil Dunlap for January 06, 2010
ralston: It seems like every culture has a toast that means "to your health".... salud, sante, slainte, l'chaim...say, what's the norse toast, tyr? tyr: we say "skoal!!" ralston: And does that mean "health"? tyr: no, it means "skull", 'cause we drink out of our enemies' skulls. ralston: Of course you do...
It makes a good joke and story, but that’s not what my American Heritage Dictionary says. They trace “skoal” to a drinking vessel made from a shell, then on to an Indo-European root skel* that also supplied shell, shale, scalp, scale, shield, skill, school (of fish), shelf, and possibly half, scalpel, and sculpture. But they don’t link it to “skull”.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t argue the point with a violent Norse god.