ad·​mon·​ish ad-ˈmä-nish How to pronounce admonish (audio)
admonished; admonishing; admonishes

transitive verb

: to indicate duties or obligations to
: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner
were admonished for being late
: to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to
admonished them to be careful
… users are admonished to change passwords regularly …Mark Pothier
: to say (something) as advice or a warning
The sign admonished, "Watch your step."
"Please be silent while I tell my story," LaPautre admonished.Louise Erdrich
admonisher noun
plural admonishers
admonishment noun
plural admonishments

Did you know?

When should you use admonish?

We won't admonish you if you don't know the origins of this word—its current meanings have strayed slightly from its history. Admonish was borrowed in the 14th century (via Anglo-French amonester) from Vulgar Latin admonestāre, which itself is probably a derivative of admonestus, the past participle of the Latin verb admonēre, meaning "to warn."  Admonēre, in turn, was formed by the combination of the prefix ad- and monēre, "to warn." Other descendants of monēre in English include monitor, monitory ("giving a warning"), premonition, and an archaic synonym of admonish, monish. Incidentally, admonish has a number of other synonyms as well, including reprove, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, and chide.

Choose the Right Synonym for admonish

reprove, rebuke, reprimand, admonish, reproach, chide mean to criticize adversely.

reprove implies an often kindly intent to correct a fault.

gently reproved my table manners

rebuke suggests a sharp or stern reproof.

the papal letter rebuked dissenting clerics

reprimand implies a severe, formal, often public or official rebuke.

reprimanded by the ethics committee

admonish suggests earnest or friendly warning and counsel.

admonished by my parents to control expenses

reproach and chide suggest displeasure or disappointment expressed in mild reproof or scolding.

reproached him for tardiness
chided by their mother for untidiness

Examples of admonish in a Sentence

"You landed in back of him," said Paul, my guide and friend. As he admonished me, the fish turned obligingly, opened its mouth, wide and white, and engulfed my fly. Peter Kaminsky, New York Times, 17 June 2001
He is sympathetic but never condescending, or patronizing, or moralizing. His purpose is not to admonish or deplore but to understand. C. Vann Woodward, New York Times Book Review, 5 Feb. 1989
Cops are, from the first day in the academy, admonished that juveniles must not be shot unless in dire emergency … Joseph Wambaugh, Lines and Shadows, 1984
They were admonished to take advantage of the opportunity. my physician is always admonishing me to eat more healthy foods
Recent Examples on the Web Vice President Harris led the way in offering reassurance to voters that Biden is just fine and admonishing critics for putting more emphasis on a 90-minute debate than the three years of Biden’s administration. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 28 June 2024 In Auburn earlier this month, a school board trustee admonished the board for recognizing Pride month. Elise Fisher, Sacramento Bee, 28 June 2024 Abu Awad admonished his family to work quietly so as not to attract attention. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 3 Apr. 2024 The case for these changes is bolstered by the nation’s top doctor admonishing against social media use. Leana S. Wen, Washington Post, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for admonish 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'admonish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English amonysshen, admonisshen, amonescen, alteration (with assimilation to the verbal suffix -issh, -esce, borrowed from Anglo-French -iss-, going back to the Latin inceptive suffix -ēsc-, -īsc-) of amonesten, borrowed from Anglo-French amonester, going back to Vulgar Latin *admonestāre, probably derivative of *admonestus, past participle of Latin admonēre "to give a reminder to, give advice to, caution" (modeled on comestus, past participle of comedere "to eat up, consume") from ad- ad- + monēre "to bring to the notice of, give warning" — more at mind entry 1

Note: The source of *admonestāre is uncertain. A cross between admonēre and molestāre, "to disturb, annoy, worry," has been hypothesized, though the lack of any Romance progeny for molestus, molestāre, etc., militates against the presence of this verb in proto-Romance.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of admonish was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near admonish

Cite this Entry

“Admonish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ad·​mon·​ish ad-ˈmän-ish How to pronounce admonish (audio)
: to criticize or warn gently but seriously : warn of a fault
: to give friendly advice or encouragement to
admonished them to keep trying
admonishment noun

More from Merriam-Webster on admonish

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!