be·​rate | \ bi-ˈrāt How to pronounce berate (audio) , bē- \
berated; berating; berates

Definition of berate

transitive verb

: to scold or condemn vehemently and at length being berated by her parents when she came home late

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for berate

scold, upbraid, berate, rail, revile, vituperate mean to reproach angrily and abusively. scold implies rebuking in irritation or ill temper justly or unjustly. angrily scolding the children upbraid implies censuring on definite and usually justifiable grounds. upbraided her assistants for poor research berate suggests prolonged and often abusive scolding. berated continually by an overbearing boss rail (at or against) stresses an unrestrained berating. railed loudly at their insolence revile implies a scurrilous, abusive attack prompted by anger or hatred. an alleged killer reviled in the press vituperate suggests a violent reviling. was vituperated for betraying his friends

Berate and Rate

Berate and rate can both mean "to scold angrily or violently." This sense of rate was first recorded in the 14th century, roughly two centuries before the now more familiar (and etymologically unrelated) rate meaning "to estimate the value of." We know that berate was probably formed by combining be and the older rate, but the origins of this particular rate itself are somewhat more obscure. We can trace the word back to the Middle English form raten, but beyond that things get a little murky. It's possible that rate, and by extension berate, derives from the same ancient word that led to the Swedish rata (meaning "to find blame, despise") and earlier the Old Norse hrata ("to fall, stagger"), but this is uncertain.

Examples of berate in a Sentence

there's no need to berate someone for making a mistake during the first day on the job
Recent Examples on the Web Central officials have refrained from berating provinces for foot-dragging. The Economist, "Keeping caps out of hands China once stressed the importance of setting minimum wages," 18 Dec. 2019 But just as many cherish the scene in which Grant, as a boyish British prime minister, berates a boorish US president played by Billy Bob Thornton., "LONDON — “Love, Actually” is all around this year in Britain’s pre-Christmas election.," 11 Dec. 2019 To win the affection of her mother, a former cheerleader herself, who berated Vicky as a child for not following in her footsteps. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Cheerleader Movies Are Big Business for Lifetime," 10 Sep. 2019 Four former employees spoke to The Republic about Rodriguez's behavior, describing him as manipulative, aggressive and prone to berating employees loudly and in view of others. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Leader of ASU events program in L.A. harassed, discriminated against employees, university report says," 13 Dec. 2019 Earlier this month, after more than three years of delay, the city settled a federal lawsuit filed by Benitez alleging police tried to cover up Van Dyke’s actions by berating witnesses and falsifying statements in official reports. Jason Meisner,, "City settles lawsuit by witness to Laquan McDonald shooting who said cops pressured her to change her story," 29 Nov. 2019 Uber, whose former CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick once got caught on camera berating a contractor, knows all too well how the implementation of such technology can go wrong. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Prepare to Be Watched Everywhere," 21 Nov. 2019 But the absolute wrong reaction is berating the parent or caretaker for having a crying baby. Anchorage Daily News, "Stuck with an annoying airline seatmate? Here’s what you can do about it.," 17 Nov. 2019 By punching walls or drunkenly berating his mother, the audience soon realizes that Tyler’s only concept of expressing his thoughts is through violence; a theme that is visualized during the film’s first half with its saturation of red tones. Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "WAVES Explores the Dangers of Toxic Masculinity," 15 Nov. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of berate

1548, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about berate

Time Traveler for berate

Time Traveler

The first known use of berate was in 1548

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about berate

Statistics for berate

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Berate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for berate


How to pronounce berate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of berate

formal : to yell at (someone) : to criticize (someone) in a loud and angry way


be·​rate | \ bi-ˈrāt How to pronounce berate (audio) \
berated; berating

Kids Definition of berate

: to scold in a loud and angry way

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on berate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for berate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with berate

Spanish Central: Translation of berate

Nglish: Translation of berate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of berate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on berate

What made you want to look up berate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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