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

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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 early 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 When his wife Kathy is the victim of a bombing (justice for Kathy Stabler; no character ever deserves to spend this much time in a neck brace!), Stabler goes berserk. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, "Organized Crime Is Not What We Need From Law & Order," 2 Apr. 2021 Stanford survived its Elite Eight game against Louisville only because sub Ashten Prechtel, who sat out the entire first half, went berserk in the second half. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Move over Warriors, Stanford's got next when it comes to having fun on the court," 4 Apr. 2021 And before racists see this and go all berserk … These books are not really the man’s better work. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, "6 Dr. Seuss Books With Racist Imagery Pulled From Printing," 2 Mar. 2021 And here’s where Di Modica’s story goes from plucky to over-the-top berserk. Christopher Bonanos, Curbed, "The Outlaw History of Arturo Di Modica’s Crosby Street Studio," 26 Feb. 2021 The pandemic living is clearly driving Nwodim berserk. Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times, "How did Bad Bunny end up as a snake plant on SNL? The team behind the skit explains," 23 Feb. 2021 The movie has a comedic plot about a couple driving each other berserk in their London home during coronavirus confinement. John Jurgensen, WSJ, "How to Make a Movie About the Covid-19 Pandemic During the Pandemic," 15 Jan. 2021 After the surreal opener, her film takes off like an Aston Martin, zigzagging from one berserk scene to the next. New York Times, "Louise Linton Has Made a Movie," 9 Jan. 2021 The film, however, goes its own way with some usefully berserk imagery. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "Things to do, watch, stream this Halloween," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "‘I’m the Doctor Who Is Here to Help You Die’," 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, "COVID-19 linked to 30-fold increase in rare childhood inflammatory disease," 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, "The Ars COVID-19 vaccine primer: 100-plus in the works, 8 in clinical trials," 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, "Hydroxychloroquine trial for COVID-19 begins amid political debate," 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,, "Myth: 49ers fans can lift their team to victory Saturday," 8 Jan. 2020 While stopped at the light, two cars pulled up and boxed her in, and a berserk man exited one of the cars, yelling at her., "Man punches woman in face after road rage incident: Fairview Park Police Blotter," 17 July 2019 Straight up, the flesh-and-bones missile writhes and contorts – a berserk mosh pit of one – before crashing back to its wet hunting grounds. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Toothy air show wows as local guide fly-fishes for mako sharks," 12 July 2019 Paid Off is mordantly humorous television entertainment that serves as a queasy reminder that America’s leaders have saddled the younger generation with the weight of education debt combined with curiously slow-growing wages and berserk politics. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "Win a Game Show, Pay Off Your Student Debt," 12 July 2018

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.

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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

Time Traveler

The first known use of berserk was in 1800

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Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Berserk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for berserk



English Language Learners Definition of berserk

: crazy and violent especially because of anger


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

Kids Definition of berserk

: out of control especially due to extreme anger or excitement

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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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