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

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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 The sobbing victim appears to berate him and wave what looks to be a wooden board at him as he's being taken away. CBS News, "Elderly Asian woman attacked in San Francisco fights back, sends alleged attacker to hospital," 18 Mar. 2021 Several more Audubon directors and supporters stood to berate the pamphlet and its authors. Melissa Groo, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Mrs. Edge Saved the Birds," 16 Mar. 2021 Where Geddert would berate, beat, or starve the girls, Nassar would soothe, massage, and reward them. Tara Sullivan,, "Suicide of gymnastics coach charged with abuse can be a beginning, not an end," 4 Mar. 2021 The London tabloids that regularly berate Harry and Meghan predict the interview will be explosive, incendiary, and a slap at the queen and the royal family. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Will Harry and Meghan reveal 'shocking' royal secrets? What to expect from their Oprah interview," 2 Mar. 2021 Lyndon Johnson even used to call network executives and berate them about evening news segments on Vietnam. Tevi Troy, Washington Examiner, "False starts," 18 Feb. 2021 The thief quickly realized a 4-year-old child was seated in a booster seat behind him, U-turned in the adjacent Video Only parking lot and returned to the mother to berate her for leaving the child in the car. oregonlive, "Thief threatens to call police on mom who left child in the back seat of the car he stole," 16 Jan. 2021 The calls began with one to Gov. Brian Kemp in early December to berate him for certifying the state’s election results. New York Times, "Democrats Are Determined to Pressure Biden to Investigate Trump," 9 Jan. 2021 Passengers berate fight attendants about their noncompliant cabin mates. Michael Laris, Anchorage Daily News, "Sneezed on, cussed at, ignored: Airline workers battle mask resistance with scant government backup," 2 Jan. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of berate

1548, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for berate

Last Updated

22 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Berate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for berate



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

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