1. A publicized incident that brings about disgrace or offends the moral sensibilities of society: a drug scandal that forced the mayor's resignation.
2. A person, thing, or circumstance that causes or ought to cause disgrace or outrage: a politician whose dishonesty is a scandal; considered the housing shortage a scandal.
3. Damage to reputation or character caused by public disclosure of immoral or grossly improper behavior; disgrace.
4. Talk that is damaging to one's character; malicious gossip.
[French scandale, from Old French, cause of sin, from Latin scandalum, trap, stumbling block, temptation, from Greek skandalon; see skand- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.