July 15, 2013
scurrillous (adjective)
\SKER-uh-lus\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : vulgar and evil2 : containing indecent words or harsh abuse
How do you use it?
The mayoral candidate claimed that he was the victim of scurrilous lies and accused the other candidates of dirty politics.
Are you a word wiz?

"Scurrilous" comes ultimately from the Latin word "scurra." What do you think "scurra" means?

You're no fool if you chose C, "buffoon." The Latin word "scurra" means "buffoon" or "fool," and it led to a Latin adjective that means "foolish." That adjective, "scurrilis," was taken into English in the 1500s and did originally refer to the behavior of a buffoon or fool. But instead of focusing on the funny, "scurrilous" highlighted the vulgar. Over the next 300 years, "scurrilous" took on more and more negative connotations, and now refers to actions or words that are not just vulgar, but are harsh, indecent, and downright evil. The association of "scurrilous" with the court jester is now only historical.
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