The word "scandal" can cover a wide variety of behavior, ranging from the illegal, to the immoral, to the simply unfashionable. This word has been in use in English for five hundred years, and it has been used in so many different contexts that it is hard to know exactly how it is being used in any context. Really boring, technical tax evasion stuff? Scandal. Mayor's brother-in-law has a construction company with fat contracts? Scandal. College basketball players shaving points? Scandal. A Hollywood marriage ends when the star of a movie falls in love with his co-star and deserts his high school sweetheart? Scandal. A dress that is one size too small and two shades too red? Scandalous. Eating an entire chocolate cake for lunch, and following it with a bottle of wine? Even more scandal. Fill in the blanks: just about any behavior that is not 100% fit for public consumption is scandalous.

One problem that has arisen for me, however, is when scandal is used in cases of abuse. Recently, for example, there was a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. This was described as a "scandal". I, personally, don't feel comfortable with this usage because the word "scandal" can suggest merely deviant or socially unacceptable behavior. I feel that calling cases like this "scandals" makes them seem like just trivial and somewhat amusing cases of misbehavior, rather than crimes. After all, if I go outside and someone punches me and takes my wallet, we don't call that behavior a "scandal", so why should we call a sexual assault a "scandal". However, since the word can be used in many different contexts, including clear cases of criminal behavior, my objection to this term is mostly a personal issue.