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 Obama publicly admonished Israel’s actions and voiced concerns for Palestinian civilian deaths. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 29 Nov. 2023 Gaither admonished his players against joining civil-rights protests. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2023 Arab leaders have admonished Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying Washington will be deemed complicit for civilian collateral in Israel’s unrestrained pursuit of Hamas November 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2023 In accepting the plea, Judge Ana Reyes — appointed to the federal bench by President Biden — admonished the defendant. Robert Legare, CBS News, 12 Oct. 2023 Most infamously, McCarthy made his devil’s bargain with former President Trump, admonishing him for the deadly Jan. 6 attack on lawmakers, then fecklessly showing up at Mar-a-Lago to pledge his fealty to the party’s MAGA wing and its destructive brand of politics. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2023 On another day, an Italian mother admonishes her little girl. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 23 Aug. 2023 My sister admonished me for being so shallow and shamed me into hurrying home and getting ready for my date. Rosa Cesaretti, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 At one point, Kaplan admonished Bankman-Fried for trying to provide his own definition of market manipulation. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2023 See More

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 5 Dec. 2023.

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

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