Common Scold

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Common Scold

A person who frequently or habitually causes public disturbances or breaks the peace by brawling or quarreling.

Scolding, which was an indictable offense at Common Law but is obsolete today, did not involve a single incident but rather the repeated creation of discord.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

COMMON SCOLD, Crim. law, communes rixatrix. A woman, who, in consequence of her boisterous, disorderly and quarrelsome tongue, is a public nuisance to the neighborhood.
     2. Such a woman may be indicted, and on conviction, punished. At common law, the punishment was by being placed in a certain engine of correction called the trebucket or cocking stool.
     3. This punishment has been abolished in Pennsylvania, where the offence may be punished by fine and imprisonment. 12 Serg. & Rawle, 220; vide 1 Russ. on Cr. 802 Hawk. B. 2, c. 25, s. 59 1 T. R. 756 4 Rogers' Rec. 90; Roscoe on Cr. Ev. 665.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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Even when she barely escaped the ignominous punishment of a ducking in the Potomac River on the "common scold" charge, she refused to stop speaking and writing about what she believed.
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