Printable Version
Pronunciation: skæn-dêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An incident that brings embarrassment or disgrace to the person causing it. 2. A kerfuffle that disturbs or upsets a group of people.

Notes: Today's word comes with an adjective, scandalous, and a verb, scandalize "to cause a scandal, to offend", as 'to scandalize the whole town by burning the flag in public'. The verb opens the way for others, like scandalization and scandalizer.

In Play: Inappropriate behavior is always a scandal of some level of magnitude: "Maud Lynn Dresser caused a scandal when she appeared at the bishop's investiture wearing a low-cut dress and no bra." We've reached the point that bribery and adultery no longer cause scandals among our political leaders. Pity. The rest of us pay for even the smallest infraction of social etiquette: "When Harley broke wind during the Sunday morning sermon, it caused a scandal that everyone in the church still talks about."

Word History: English made this nifty little word by simply trimming the final E from Middle French scandale, a hand-me-down from Latin scandalum "a trap, temptation". The Latin word is itself a makeover of Greek skandalon "a trap" from skandalizein "to trip, make stumble". This word comes from the Proto-Indo-European root skand- "jump". Old French had another variant of the Latin word scandalum: esclandre "scandalous statement". Old English borrowed this version of the same word, too, carefully removing the E and C and passing it on to us slander. English excels at borrowing the same word at different stages of its development for different English words. (It would be scandalous of me to forget to thank T. C. Ward for suggesting today's excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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