What is a 'skin game'?

The phrase 'a skin game' is obviously very significant, being used as the actual title of the film and referenced frequently in the dialogue, usually with the implication that it is something undesirable -- but what exactly is it?


Gather round, lads and lasses, gather round...


i think ir had to do with the battle where both sides get down and dirty. The phrase itself eludes me but I am pretty sure they spoke about the battle between the two families getting grimy and low. That must be a skin game, where they take no prisoners and everyone ends up losing.


It is old slang for a swindle. Con artists "skinned" their victims, and it may also refer to the fact that a purse was called a "skin" at some point.

When Edmund Gwenn's character takes note of the phrase, he ends by saying something about being willing to fight "gloves off," skin to skin, making a play on words about the "skin" part of the expression.

And, it can also imply prostitution.

See this conversation: