scold (skld) KEY
scold·ed, scold·ing, scolds
Middle English scolden, to be abusive, from scolde, an abusive person, probably of Scandinavian origin; see sekw-3 in Indo-European roots
scold, upbraid, berate, revile, vituperate, rail3
These verbs mean to reprimand or criticize angrily or vehemently. Scold implies reproof: parents who scolded their child for being rude. Upbraid generally suggests a well-founded reproach, as one leveled by an authority: upbraided by the supervisor for habitual tardiness. Berate suggests scolding or rebuking at length: an angry customer who berated the clerk. Revile and vituperate especially stress the use of disparaging or abusive language: critics who reviled the novel as unsophisticated pulp. "The incensed priests . . . continued to raise their voices, vituperating each other in bad Latin" (Sir Walter Scott). Rail suggests bitter, harsh, or denunciatory language: "Why rail at fate? The mischief is your own" (John Greenleaf Whittier).
A scold is not usually a poet and a scolding rarely sounds like poetry to the one being scolded, but it seems that the word scold has a poetic background. It is probable that scold, first recorded in Middle English in a work probably composed around 1150, has a Scandinavian source related to the Old Icelandic word skld, "poet." Middle English scolde may in fact mean "a minstrel," but of that we are not sure. However, its Middle English meanings, "a ribald abusive person" and "a shrewish chiding woman," may be related to skld, as shown by the senses of some of the Old Icelandic words derived from skld. Old Icelandic skldskapr, for example, meant "poetry" in a good sense but also "a libel in verse," while skld-stöng meant "a pole with imprecations or charms scratched on it." It would seem that libelous cursing verse was a noted part of at least some poets' productions and that this association with poets passed firmly along with the Scandinavian borrowing into English.