Etymology
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scandal (n.)

1580s, "damage to one's reputation," from French scandale, from Late Latin scandalum "cause for offense, stumbling block, temptation," from Greek skandalon "a stumbling block, offense; a trap or snare laid for an enemy."

The Greek noun in this form seems to be attested first in Septuagint (25 times) and the Greek New Testament (15 times) as "cause of moral stumblings," translating a Hebrew word meaning "a noose, a snare." The Biblical use is presumably figurative or metaphoric, and OED and others conclude that it is "certainly an old word meaning 'trap' " or a variant of one. Presumably, then, originally "trap with a springing device" (compare related skandalē "stick of a trap," the trigger which is pulled by the cord to spring it), if it is from PIE *skand- "to leap, climb" (see scan (v.), as is proposed in Watkins (Beekes is skeptical); also see slander (n.), which is another form of the same word.

The word is used in Ancrene Riwle (c. 1200), scandle, "discredit to religion resulting from bad behavior by a religious person," from Old French escandle, eschandle (12c.); Anglo-French scandle, and Latin scandalum. But the modern word likely is a new borrowing.

The meanings "malicious gossip" and "shameful condition, action, or event; that which causes scandal" are from 1590s; the sense of "person whose conduct is a disgrace" is by 1630s. Scandal sheet "sensational newspaper" is by 1884. Scandal-monger is from 1702.

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scandalous (adj.)

late 15c., scandalouse, "disgraceful, shameful, causing scandal or offense," from Old French (Modern French scandaleux), from Medieval Latin scandalosus "scandalous," from Church Latin scandalum (see scandal). Of words or writing, "defaming, libelous," from c. 1600. Related: Scandalously; scandalousness.

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slander (n.)
late 13c., "state of impaired reputation, disgrace or dishonor;" c. 1300, "a false tale; the fabrication and dissemination of false tales," from Anglo-French esclaundre, Old French esclandre "scandalous statement," alteration ("with interloping l" [Century Dictionary]) of escandle, escandre "scandal," from Latin scandalum "cause of offense, stumbling block, temptation" (see scandal). From late 14c. as "bad situation, evil action; a person causing such a state of affairs."
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scandalize (v.)

late 15c. (Caxton), "to make a public scandal of" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French scandaliser (12c.), from Church Latin scandalizare, from late Greek skandalizein "to make to stumble; tempt; give offense to (someone)," from skandalon (see scandal).

The sense of "shock by doing something improper, offend by some action considered very wrong or outrageous" is by 1640s. Dryden and Shakespeare use simple scandal as a verb. Related: Scandalized; scandalizing; scandalization.

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opprobrium (n.)

"imputation of shameful conduct, insulting reproach," 1680s, from Latin opprobrium "disgrace, infamy, scandal, dishonor," from opprobare "to reproach, taunt" (see opprobrious). Earlier in English in nativized form opprobry (early 15c.).

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susurrus (n.)

1809, earlier as a medical Latin word in English, from Latin susurrus, literally "a humming, muttering, whispering" (see susurration).

Among the diseases of the ear, one of the most prevalent is the Paracusis imaginaria, to which both sexes are equally liable; and another variety of the same tribe, more frequent among female patients, called the Susurrus criticus, or Scandal-buzz. [The Lounger, Dec. 23, 1786]
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muck-raker (n.)

also muckraker, c. 1600, "one who rakes muck" (earliest use is in a figurative sense: "a miser"), from muck-rake "rake for scraping muck or filth" (mid-14c.), from muck (n.) + rake (n.). The figurative meaning "one who inquires into and publishes scandal and allegations of corruption among political and business leaders" was popularized 1906 in speech by President Theodore Roosevelt, in reference to the "man ... with a Muckrake in his hand" in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" (1684) who seeks worldly gain by raking filth.

The men with the muck-rakes are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck. [T. Roosevelt, quoted in "Cincinnati Enquirer," April 15, 1906.]

Muck-rake (n.) in sense "person who hunts scandal" is attested from 1872. To muck-rake (v.) in the literal sense is from 1879; figuratively from 1910. Related: Muck-raking.

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defamatory (adj.)
Origin and meaning of defamatory

"containing defamation, caluminous, injurious to reputation," 1590s, from French diffamatoire, Medieval Latin diffamatorius "tending to defame," from diffamat-, past-participle stem of diffamare"to spread abroad by ill report, make a scandal of," from dis-, here probably suggestive of ruination, + fama "a report, rumor" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"). Earlier in the same sense was defamative (c. 1500).

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defame (v.)
Origin and meaning of defame

"speak evil of, maliciously speak or write what injures the reputation of," c. 1300, from Old French defamer (13c., Modern French diffamer), from Medieval Latin defamare, from Latin diffamare "to spread abroad by ill report, make a scandal of," from dis-, here probably suggestive of ruination, + fama "a report, rumor" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"). Related: Defamed; defaming.

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-gate 
suffix attached to any word to indicate "scandal involving," 1973, abstracted from Watergate, the Washington, D.C., building complex that was home of the National Headquarters of the Democratic Party when it was burglarized June 17, 1972, by operatives later found to be working for the staff and re-election campaign of U.S. President Richard Nixon.
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