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scan·​dal ˈskan-dᵊl How to pronounce scandal (audio)
: a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it
: a person whose conduct offends propriety or morality
a scandal to the profession
: loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety : disgrace
: malicious or defamatory gossip
: indignation, chagrin, or bewilderment brought about by a flagrant violation of morality, propriety, or religious opinion
: discredit brought upon religion by unseemly conduct in a religious person
: conduct that causes or encourages a lapse of faith or of religious obedience in another


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scandaled; scandaling; scandals

transitive verb

chiefly dialectal : defame, slander
obsolete : disgrace
Choose the Right Synonym for scandal

offense, sin, vice, crime, scandal mean a transgression of law.

offense applies to the infraction of any law, rule, or code.

at that school no offense went unpunished

sin implies an offense against moral or religious law.

the sin of blasphemy

vice applies to a habit or practice that degrades or corrupts.

regarded gambling as a vice

crime implies a serious offense punishable by the law of the state.

the crime of murder

scandal applies to an offense that outrages the public conscience.

a career ruined by a sex scandal

Example Sentences

Noun There was a major scandal involving the mayor's ties with the Mob. Government officials were caught in an embezzlement scandal. Her behavior caused a scandal at school. There was never a hint of scandal during her time in office. The gossip magazine is filled with rumors and scandal. The high price of gas these days is a scandal. It's a scandal that this city doesn't have a movie theater. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Founded in 2008, the OCE was an outgrowth of the greatest ethics scandal of the era, which centered on lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his corruption and kickback schemes in Congress. Casey Michel, CNN, 19 Jan. 2023 The center hosted joint training between the company and the union, but the training center entity became one of the casualties of the scandal. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 14 Jan. 2023 In the wake of the scandal, Spitzer resigned from office and his wife later divorced him. Julia Moore, Peoplemag, 13 Jan. 2023 Carmichael kept up the bitingly fresh commentary throughout the night, referencing the awards that Tom Cruise returned last year in light of the scandal surrounding the HFPA. Laura Zornosa, Time, 11 Jan. 2023 Cruise famously returned his three Golden Globes last year in the wake of the diversity scandal, highlighted in a report by the Los Angeles Times. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2023 Maegan Hall, the female officer at the center of the scandal, has been fired, city officials said. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 10 Jan. 2023 Blanchett is mesmerizing as the genius Leonard Bernstein mentee Lydia Tár, who’s preparing to lead the Berlin Philharmonic as a slow rot of scandal pursues her into even her most sacred rehearsal spaces. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 10 Jan. 2023 Under a cloud of scandal, last year’s Globes were handed out in an untelevised private ceremony and announced on Twitter to resounding silence. Josh Rottenbergstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2023
Ohio Democrats meanwhile have struggled in the past to tie Republicans to scandal. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 25 July 2021 Los Angeles indie-rock lifers Surf Curse went from obscurity to scandal to a major-label deal in 10 months, thanks to TikTok. Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2021 Quipping about the status of a business that Volkswagen is positioning as more environmentally friendly also could irk investors, especially in light of the 2015 diesel emissions scandal the company has been trying to put behind it. Clare Duffy, CNN, 31 Mar. 2021 Social scientists predicted the Cambridge Analytica scandal way back in 2007. Felix Salmon, WIRED, 3 Apr. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scandal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English, from Late Latin scandalum stumbling block, offense, from Greek skandalon trap, stumbling block, offense; akin to Latin scandere to climb

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5a


1592, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of scandal was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near scandal

Cite this Entry

“Scandal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a crime against faith that causes another to sin
: loss of or damage to one's reputation : disgrace
brought scandal on the school
: something that offends accepted moral standards or disgraces those associated with it
their behavior is a scandal

More from Merriam-Webster on scandal

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