Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Scold Definition:

A troublesome and angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance.

Related Terms: Common Scold, Scolding, Public Nuisance

Of the scoldJowitt wrote:

"A troublesome and angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance...."

The Common ScoldJohn Bouvier defined common scold, the name given to those who were guilty of the offence of scolding. The term scold appears to be interchangeable with the term common scold which Bouvier defined as follows:

"One who, by the practice of frequent scolding, disturbs the neighborhood.

"The offence ... is a particular form of nuisance and was punishable by the ducking-stool at common law."

William Blackstone, in Volume 4 of his Commentaries, page 168, notes that the offence of being a scold is derived from Roman law, which used the term communis rixatrix, suggesting that, contrary to English criminal law, the offence was reserved for women only. He also quotes his colleague Bishop on Criminal Law:

"... a common scold is a woman who, by the practice of frequent scolding, disturbs the repose of the neighborhood."

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