a.1.Harmful; doing damage; pernicious.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
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The epigraph from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales announces the dominant theme: "O scathful [hateful] harm, condicion of poverte!" The narrative is often interrupted by digressions--anecdotes, stories-within- the-story, character studies, and observations--and by the tales that Orwell heard in the local bistros that were based on the oral traditions of illiterate workers.