scur·​ri·​lous | \ ˈskər-ə-ləs How to pronounce scurrilous (audio) , ˈskə-rə- \

Definition of scurrilous

1a : using or given to coarse language
b : vulgar and evil scurrilous imposters who used a religious exterior to rob poor people— Edwin Benson
2 : containing obscenities, abuse, or slander scurrilous accusations

Other Words from scurrilous

scurrilously adverb
scurrilousness noun

Did you know?

Scurrilous (and its much rarer relation scurrile, which has the same meaning) comes from Middle French scurrile. The Middle French word, in turn, comes from the Latin scurrilis, from scurra, which means "buffoon" or "jester." Fittingly, 18th-century lexicographer Samuel Johnson defined scurrilous as "using such language as only the licence [sic] of a buffoon could warrant." Qualities traditionally associated with buffoonery—vulgarity, irreverence, and indecorousness—are qualities often invoked by the word scurrilous. Unlike the words of a jester, however, "scurrilous" language of the present day more often intends to seriously harm or slander than to produce a few laughs.

Examples of scurrilous in a Sentence

scurrilous attacks on the senator a scurrilous satire on the scandal that enveloped Washington
Recent Examples on the Web Will, the noble straight shooter, is our entry point into the film, but for a long time Gyllenhaal, in jabbering-psycho-lite mode, dominates the proceedings, and the character’s scurrilous abrasiveness is more wearying than charismatic. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 24 Mar. 2022 Their neat, sometimes strict attire, and placid meins were a good foil for their often scurrilous motives. Vogue, 30 Oct. 2021 Men of good taste and reputation politically sidelined by scurrilous demagogues. Sam Negus, National Review, 10 Oct. 2021 The correct response to any such scurrilous claim is that the Jan. 6 attack that was peaceful and also never happened was entirely the fault of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Rex Huppke,, 28 July 2021 Director-star Christoph Waltz boldly satirizes Washington, D.C., politicos, indicting the recent past and the scurrilous present. Armond White, National Review, 9 July 2021 Touting a scurrilous podcast, Michelle Goldberg in her column in the New York Times last Friday mused whether Mother Teresa of Calcutta was actually more of a cult leader than a saint. Jim Towey, National Review, 26 May 2021 At the remove of over 130 years, Wood and Twain, conspiring to print their ‘most rare & scurrilous tale’ at West Point, can seem as distant, perhaps, as wits in the Queen’s bedchamber. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 13 May 2021 But the seven surviving chapters suggest that, far from dying along with him, the nihilism, cynicism, and scurrilous tactics that Atwater brought into national politics live on. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 6 May 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of scurrilous

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of scurrilous was in 1576

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Last Updated

29 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scurrilous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of scurrilous for Spanish Speakers


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