1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scandal

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SCANDAL, disgrace, discredit, shame, caused by the report or knowledge of wrongdoing, hence defamation or gossip, especially malicious or idle; or such action as causes public offence or disrepute. (For the law relating to scandal, more generally termed “defamation” see Libel and Slander.) The Greek word σκάνδαλον, stumbling-block, cause of offence or temptation, is used in the Septuagint and the New Testament. Classical Greek had the word σκανδάληθρον.) 0pov only, properly the spring of a baited trap; the origin probably being the root seen in Latin scandere, to climb, get up. While the Latin scandalum has given such direct derivatives as Spanish and Portuguese escandalo, Dutch schandaal, Eng. “scandal,” &c., it is also the source of the synonymous “slander,” Middle Eng. sclaundre, O. Fr. esclandre, escandle.

A particular form of defamation was scandalum magnatum, “slander of great men,” words, that is, spoken defaming a peer spiritual or temporal, judge or dignitary of the realm. Action lay for such defamation under the statutes of 3 Edw. I. c. 34, 2 Rich. II. c. 5, and 12 Rich. II. c. 11 whereby damages could be recovered, even in cases where no action would lie, if the defamation were of an ordinary subject, and that without proof of special damage. These statutes, though long obsolete, were only abolished in 1887 (Statute Law Revision Act).