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skim something off (of) somethingand skim something off
1. Lit. to scoop something off the surface of something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) The cook skimmed the fat off the stew. The cook skimmed off the fat.
2. Fig. to remove a portion of something of value, such as money, from an account. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) The auditor was skimming a few dollars a day off the bank's cash flow. Kelly skimmed off a few dollars each day.
skim off somethingalso skim something off
to take something valuable The colleges with very high standards skim off the best high school graduates. State and local governments skim tax money off the company's profits.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of skim off ( to remove something floating on a liquid)
1. To remove some floating matter from a liquid: They use a net to skim the cranberries off the surface. They skim off the dross before pouring the metal into molds.
2. To appropriate some money illegally or dishonestly: The dictator skimmed off over $1 million from international donations and deposited it in personal bank accounts. The company was skimming money off its employees' paychecks and using it to cover losses.