verb be·rate \ bi-ˈrāt , bē- \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of berate

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

berate was our Word of the Day on 07/25/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of berate in a Sentence

  1. there's no need to berate someone for making a mistake during the first day on the job

Recent Examples of berate from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of berate


in the meaning defined above

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Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of berate for English Language Learners

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

BERATE Defined for Kids


verb be·rate \ bi-ˈrāt \

Definition of berate for Students

berated; berating
: to scold in a loud and angry way

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