In the Blade Runner films a common derogatory term for replicants is "skinjob", apparently also contracted to "skinner" in 2049 (maybe in 2019 already, too). It is, however, not entirely clear to me what this derives from or refers to. I could see two possible origins for that term, but am not entirely sold on any of them, let alone aware of an official etymology for it:
- It could refer to their nature as slaves, seeing how their only purpose is to do jobs and they're nothing more than jobs wearing a human skin.
- It could as well derive from the profession of the Blade Runners with the replicants just being targets, or jobs, for the Blade Runners, again clad in human skin.
It seems to come down to basically reducing their existence to jobs from a dehumanizing and utilitarian viewpoint, similar to the use of "retirement" as euphemism for killing. But for all I know it could as well go back to some totally non-semantical mash-up of a term from a different language altogether, seeing how the world of Blade Runner is a big cultural mash-up anyway.
So is there anything known about the origins and meaning of the term "skinjob" in the Blade Runner films? Does it actually originate from Philip K. Dick's novel the movies are supposedly based on and does that reveal a little more about its etymology? Or is there some out-of-universe origin-story sheding more light on its in-universe meaning?