1 a : using or given to coarse language
b : vulgar and evil
2 : containing obscenities, abuse, or slander
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.
The actor publically apologized to his young fans for his scurrilous tweets.
"Because he was friendlier with her highness than protocol allowed …, he created a strong impression …, which boosted his status from her royal servant to close friend, which triggered much scurrilous backstage gossip among the sovereign's fawning aides and officials…." — Colin Covert, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 29 Sept. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of scurrilous: _ _ pr _ b _ i _ _ s.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP