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a person, in particular a woman, who nags or grumbles constantly.
“his mother was the village scold”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the common law of crime in England and Wales, a common scold was a type of public nuisanceâ??a troublesome and angry person who broke the public peace by habitually chastising, arguing and quarrelling with their neighbours. The majority of individuals punished for scolding were women, though men could also be labelled scolds.
The offence, which was exported to North America with the colonists, was punished by monetary fines, but also by methods intended to publicly humiliate such as ducking: being placed in a chair and submerged in a river or pond. Although rarely prosecuted it remained on the statute books in England and Wales until 1967.
Scolding offences were commonly presented and punished in manorial and borough courts that governed the behaviour of peasants and townspeople across England. Scolds were also presented in church courts. The most common punishment was a monetary fine.
Various historians have argued that scolding and bad speech were coded as feminine offences by the late medieval period. Women of all marital statuses were prosecuted for scolding, though married women featured most frequently, while widows were rarely labelled scolds. In some places, such as Exeter, scolds were typically poorer women, whereas elsewhere scolds could include members of the local elite. Women who were also charged with other offences, such as violence, nightwandering, eavesdropping or sexual impropriety were also likely to be labelled scolds. Individuals were frequently labelled ‘common scolds’, indicating the impact of their behaviour and speech on the whole community. Karen Jones identified 13 men prosecuted for scolding in Kent’s secular courts, compared to 94 women and 2 couples. Men accused of scolding were often charged alongside their wives. Helen, wife of Peter Bradwall scolded Hugh Welesson and Isabel, his wife, in Middlewich in 1434, calling Isabel a “child murderer” and Hugh a “skallet [wretched] knave”. Isabel and Hugh also scolded Helen, calling her a “lesyng blebberer” (lying bletherer). All parties were fined for the offences, though Hugh and Isabel were fined jointly. Like women, male scolds were often accused of many other offences, such as fornication, theft, illegal trading, and assault.
Note that in american law, Scolding was folded into disorderly conduct in the early 1970’s