ber·​serk | \ bər-ˈsərk How to pronounce berserk (audio) , bə-, ˌbər-, -ˈzərk; ˈbər-ˌsərk How to pronounce berserk (audio) , -ˌzərk \
variants: or berserker \ bər-​ˈsər-​kər How to pronounce berserk (audio) , bə-​ , ˌbər-​ , -​ˈzər-​ ; ˈbər-​ˌsər-​ , -​ˌzər-​ \

Definition of berserk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an ancient Scandinavian warrior frenzied in battle and held to be invulnerable
2 : one whose actions are recklessly defiant



Definition of berserk (Entry 2 of 2)

: frenzied, crazed usually used in the phrase go berserk sinister ravings of an imagination gone berserk— John Gruen

Other Words from berserk


berserk adverb
berserkly adverb

Did you know?

Berserk comes from Old Norse berserkr, which combines ber- ("bear") and serkr ("shirt"). According to Norse legend, berserkrs were warriors who wore bearskin coverings and worked themselves into such frenzies during combat that they became immune to the effects of steel and fire. Berserk was borrowed into English (first as a noun and later as an adjective) in the 19th century, when interest in Scandinavian myth and history was high. It was considered a slang term at first, but it has since gained broader acceptance.

Examples of berserk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jazz make some inexplicable mistakes, can’t get enough stops late, as the Mavs go berserk from the 3-point line to tie the series at one game apiece. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Apr. 2022 After inflicting 40 minutes of stressful backstage drama on audiences, Noé lets the whole film-within-a-film go berserk. Peter Debruge, Variety, 4 May 2022 Last week, everyone went berserk over a three-cylinder Toyota. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, 6 Apr. 2022 Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II take the wheel in the director's berserk but frequently entertaining L.A. heist thriller. Leah Greenblatt,, 6 Apr. 2022 Cold digits may be explained because our blood is in our legs, poor circulation or, possibly, Raynaud’s Syndrome, where the body goes berserk when exposed to the cold due to constrained blood flow to the extremities. Adam Chase, Outside Online, 23 Dec. 2019 When the first trailer for No Way Home hit, the internet went berserk, naturally, but one of the main fan theories that spurred from the teaser was that, well, Matt Murdock would appear as Peter Parker’s lawyer. Savannah Salazar, Vulture, 16 Dec. 2021 Good liars, after all, can cover up tics, while nervous truth-tellers might set the machine berserk. Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2021 In this line of thinking, the freedom that everyone feels is attributed to something far more elevated than people going berserk after months spent indoors. New York Times, 21 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But even that doesn’t seem to explain why some insist on the infallibility of AI, particularly since there are plenty of sci-fi films and TV shows that highlight AI that has gone berserk. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Mitch McConnell has gone predictably berserk over the prospect of increasing the inheritance tax by taxing capital gains at death. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 18 June 2021 Besides equipment, the hunt for drugs has been equally berserk. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 4 May 2021 In the past few years, the disease had spread with a kind of berserk enthusiasm from Bradshaw’s prostate to his lungs and into his bone marrow. Katie Engelhart, The Atlantic, 2 Mar. 2021 Researchers have widely hypothesized that infectious agents—like viruses—trigger berserk immune responses in certain children with genetic predispositions. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 14 May 2020 That is, these candidate vaccines seemed to prompt berserk immune responses that caused lung damage in monkeys and liver damage in ferrets. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 1 May 2020 In some critically ill patients with COVID-19, berserk immune responses are thought to cause devastating damage to lungs and other organs. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 10 Apr. 2020 In this regular season, the 49ers won in Seattle, but lost to the Seahawks at Levi’s, which was packed with berserk fans. Scott Ostler,, 8 Jan. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of berserk


1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1896, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for berserk

Noun and Adjective

Old Norse berserkr, probably from ber- bear + serkr shirt

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Time Traveler for berserk

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The first known use of berserk was in 1800

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Last Updated

2 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Berserk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for berserk


ber·​serk | \ bər-ˈsərk How to pronounce berserk (audio) , -ˈzərk \

Kids Definition of berserk

: out of control especially due to extreme anger or excitement

More from Merriam-Webster on berserk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for berserk

Nglish: Translation of berserk for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about berserk


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