Wednesday's Word

scold:  a public nuisance. The origin of the word is skald - as in the bard or poet. The person people paid money to hear make public noise and tumult!

A scold was almost always a woman, and it was a crime from the late middle ages onward. Not just in England either, but also the Colonies. 

You could be ducked and fined. Ducking was dunking in a river or pond. And, there was a special stool for it. There was also a chair called the 'dung chair' that exposed the offender's buttocks to the crowd as public humiliation. 

And, it gets worse. The scold's bridle was a locking metal mask that prevented speech.

So, the next time you heckle a comedian or yell at a kid to get off your lawn - know you are continuing a long-standing tradition of scolding - and be grateful it's no longer a crime. (It was on the books in New Jersey until 1972.)


[I think this might be my second favorite photo I've taken while out walking.]