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

transitive verb

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

Did you know?

Berate and Rate

Berate and rate can both mean "to rebuke angrily or violently." This sense of rate was first recorded in the 14th century, centuries before the familiar (and etymologically unrelated) rate meaning "to estimate the value of." We know that berate was probably formed by combining the prefix be- and the older rate, but the origins of this particular rate itself are somewhat more obscure.

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

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 But on the day after the three men berated the students, UT President Jay Hartzell released a statement that was closely read on campus. Rich Schapiro, NBC News, 11 Nov. 2023 He would be sprayed with pepper spray and berated by rioters. Carly Tagen-Dye, Peoplemag, 21 Oct. 2023 Throw a chair, berate hundreds of referees, verbally assault just about anybody who played for him — or against him. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, 5 Nov. 2023 Every break, Knight called senior Butch Carter over to the bench and berated him. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Nov. 2023 Instead, one of the members berated Beckley for moving ahead with privatizing even though the position of town planner had been vacant since March. Daniel Golden, ProPublica, 14 Oct. 2023 At some moments, her voice would bounce around the stage, berating her as her body clenched in horror. Kally Patz, Vogue, 20 Oct. 2023 President Trump berated the league for the kneeling, framing the players as unpatriotic. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Oct. 2023 Her mother, Rachel, scolded St. Pierre for berating her daughter for not living up to his idea of religious morality. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of berate was in 1548


Dictionary Entries Near berate

Cite this Entry

“Berate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​rate bi-ˈrāt How to pronounce berate (audio)
: to scold forcefully

More from Merriam-Webster on berate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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