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 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 About 20 people gathered at Central Park to hear speakers berate city leaders for flat-funding education. Don Stacom,, "Racial justice group in New Britain stages rally to demand better funding for education," 21 Dec. 2020 Had a parent berate a first year official for a whole half. Mike Bass, The Enquirer, "Column: Sports parent berates young official … until discovering the replacement," 20 Nov. 2020 Through both campaigns and his presidency, Trump rarely missed an opportunity to berate Democrats, question Biden’s mental state, and challenge the validity of U.S. elections. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "Americans vote for change as Joe Biden is elected 46th President," 7 Nov. 2020 In the event, however, the hearing was mostly an opportunity for Republicans on the committee to berate Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for supposedly discriminating against conservative users—especially conservative user number one, Donald Trump. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Surprise! The Section 230 Hearing Wasn’t About Section 230," 28 Oct. 2020

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

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Berate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 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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