Stephanie asked about
the word scandalous, as in scandalous behavior.
The root word is
scandal. It comes from the Greek σκάνδαλον (skandalon), which originally meant
a snare or a trap that would spring shut on its prey.
In English, the first
sense was theological. Scandal was any discredit to religion occasioned by the
dubious conduct of a religious authority who was supposed to be an impeccable
example. Later, it expanded beyond humans and applied to any stumbling block to
In time, it slipped into
the secular realm, becoming any event injurious to one’s reputation, or an
insult to the social fabric or sensibility. Because norms varied so widely
depending on the era, social class, population density, and other such
considerations, some scandals of the past are now seen as laughable. Once upon
a time, for instance, it was scandalous for women to wear slacks.
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