verb ad·mon·ish \ ad-ˈmä-nish \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of admonish

admonished; admonishing; admonishes
1 a : to indicate duties or obligations to
b : to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner
  • were admonished for being late
2 : to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to
  • admonished them to be careful
  • … users are admonished to change passwords regularly …
  • —Mark Pothier
3 : 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


noun, plural admonishers


play \-mənt\ noun, plural admonishments

admonish was our Word of the Day on 04/19/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of admonish in a Sentence

  1. "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 KaminskyNew York Times17 June 2001
  2. He is sympathetic but never condescending, or patronizing, or moralizing. His purpose is not to admonish or deplore but to understand. —C. Vann WoodwardNew York Times Book Review5 Feb. 1989
  3. Cops are, from the first day in the academy, admonished that juveniles must not be shot unless in dire emergency … —Joseph WambaughLines and Shadows1984
  4. They were admonished to take advantage of the opportunity.

  5. my physician is always admonishing me to eat more healthy foods

Recent Examples of admonish from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'admonish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

When Should You Use [admonish]?

Admonish was borrowed in the 14th century (via Anglo-French) from Vulgar Latin admonestare, which is itself an alteration 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 even a now archaic synonym of admonish, monish. Incidentally, admonish has a number of other synonyms as well, including reprove, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, and chide.

Origin and Etymology of admonish

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 1mind
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.

Synonym Discussion of 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

ADMONISH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of admonish for English Language Learners

  • : to speak to (someone) in a way that expresses disapproval or criticism

  • : to tell or urge (someone) to do something

ADMONISH Defined for Kids


verb ad·mon·ish \ ad-ˈmä-nish \

Definition of admonish for Students

admonished; admonishing
1 : to criticize or warn gently but seriously
  • The principal admonished a student for talking.
2 : to give friendly advice or encouragement
  • I admonished them to keep trying.

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