A TV news story about a child being burnt in a bath of hot water had a ‘super’ (words written on the screen) saying a child had been SCOLDED.

hot and cold

The proper word should have been SCALDED.

To be SCOLDED is to be angrily criticized or reprimanded.

I imagine the person who confused SCALDED with SCOLDED was scolded for their mistake. In this case, where the words are written on the screen, the mistake is obvious.

I think obvious mistakes make news organisations look unreliable. A large portion of people who still get their news from television are ‘more mature’ and they were probably taught the difference between SCOLD and SCALD.


word nerd CU

When I help newsrooms (broadcast and print) avoid common word confusion mistakes, I use simple memory devices  – because spell check will not pick up words that are proper words – just not the RIGHT word you need – like the SCOLD/SCALD confusion.

We work through commonly confused words in news stories – and simple (often visual) memory devices.

Here are easy ways to remember SCOLD/SCALD.

scOLDed is when you are ‘tOLD off’ (criticised)

SCALD – is ‘the other use’ – when something or someone is burned in hot water.

if someone is sCALded you better CALL the ambulance.

There’s the audio CALL reminder.

I also encourage writers to remember a picture (a visual reminder) of an ambulance with a big A on it – so they remember to use scAld with an A.  Simple (even child-like) memory devices help you choose the right word when you are writing under deadline pressure.



scald BBN quote-thou-art-a-soul-in-bliss-but-i-am-bound-upon-a-wheel-of-fire-that-mine-own-tears-do-william-shakespeare-77-59-48


From my Italian lessons at school, I remember CALDO means hot.

So,  you are sCALDed in HOT (Caldo) water.

…and just a word of warning when traveling in Italy. Many English speaking tourists have been SCALDED by turning on the hot tap (Caldo marked with a ‘C’) thinking it’s the Cold tap.


I hope that helps you remember when to use SCOLD and when to use SCALD.








One thought on “#Writing Tip: How to use SCALD and SCOLD correctly

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