c.1600, "beam or plank on which something rests," especially on which something heavy can be rolled from place to place (1782), of uncertain origin, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse skið "stick of wood" (see ski (n.)). As "a sliding along" from 1890; specifically of motor vehicles from 1903. Skid-mark is from 1914.
In the timber regions of the American West, skids laid down one after another to form a road were "a poor thing for pleasure walks, but admirably adapted for hauling logs on the ground with a minimum of friction" ["Out West" magazine, October 1903]. A skid as something used to facilitate downhill motion led to figurative phrases such as hit the skids "go into rapid decline" (1909), and cf. skid row.