A native English speaker wrote in her book that the word "scold" is old-fashioned and not used in a situation, for example, where a child has caused some trouble at school." According to the writer, the child would say, "I got in trouble at school today" rather than "I was scolded at school today."

If this is correct, why do we often see newspaper articles in which the word "scold" is used as in the following excerpts. Is there any difference in meaning or nuance in the usage of the word?

  • Trump scolded the media ...
  • Tom Price resigned ... after being publicly scolded by Mr. Trump...
  • "Scold" may be less common than in the past, but it's not archaic. I suspect that schools attempt to avoid the word, though.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 7, 2018 at 0:25
  • I'd use 'scold' rather than 'berate' or 'castigate', in general. But it's certainly old-fashioned (which doesn't mean that the odd [and rather odd sounding] example won't crop up). Jun 7, 2018 at 0:40
  • Perhaps different for US and UK? Hot Licks (US) says it is not archaic. Edwin Ashworth (UK) says it is old-fashioned. I (also US) agree with Hot Licks.
    – GEdgar
    Jun 7, 2018 at 1:05
  • Source (anonymous 'native English speaker')? To scold has a historically negative, even derogatory connotation (women in particular used to be viciously punished and humiliated whenever accused of the crime of scolding). It has an extremely political tone.
    – Bread
    Jun 7, 2018 at 1:32
  • Some more in-depth info at english.stackexchange.com/questions/395233/…
    – Dave Costa
    Jun 7, 2018 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


I do think that "scold" is a bit old-fashioned and not often used in everyday speech. This might vary by region or country, of course.

I suspect it is a word that appears more often in writing than in conversation.

The child may prefer to say "I got in trouble ..." partly because it is more vague. Children don't always want to volunteer details, especially when delivering bad news. (The same might be said of adults, of course.)

A journalist usually has the opposite goal - provide as much detail as possible with the fewest words. "Scold" can be very useful in this context. If an article said "Tom Price resigned ... after publicly getting in trouble with Mr. Trump", it would be less clear how Trump expressed his displeasure.

  • 1
    "Scold", having just five letters, is used in journalese--newspaper writing--to save space, particularly when writing headlines. It's not used as often now as it used to be, but it's neither archaic nor obsolete, as comments above affirm.
    – tautophile
    Jul 7, 2018 at 7:18

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