I have a question about a sentence from Sherlock Holmes's series "The Adventure of the Three Students". Here it goes.

He was nearly expelled over a card scandal in his first year.

Can anyone be specific on this "card scandal"? I guess this can't be getting at something like "card fraud" because the novel's setting's in the 20th century. So it maybe what "he" did was playing cards for money. Or, I heard "card"can mean "big, famous" as an adjective, so it's like "He had a big scandal last year and nearly expelled". Can anyone tell me? Thank you.

  • 4
    The student had been accused of cheating in a card game (for money) during his first year at university (not 'last year'). Oct 7, 2018 at 7:46
  • "the novel's setting's in the 20th century" Is it? Oct 7, 2018 at 12:32
  • The story begins "It was in the year '95..." meaning 1895.
    – Spencer
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:06
  • I have never heard of card meaning big or famous, and that definition is not found in any of the dictionaries I checked. Can you cite a source?
    – choster
    Oct 10, 2018 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


The text quoted was written in an era in which it was taken for granted that students at, we presume in this case, an ancient university were all gentlemen. In that context cheating at cards was not just wrong, it was an outrage against the norms of gentlemanly behaviour. The word 'scandal' signifies that sense of outrage.

In reality the young 'gentlemen' did in fact cheat at cards sufficiently often for the simple phrase "a card scandal" to require no further explanation for readers of that era.

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