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 berserker (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

By his own admission, instigator Rijkaard had gone 'berserk' and later apologised., "World Cup Countdown: 7 Weeks to Go - West Germany Win Italia '90 Against a Backdrop of Reunification," 6 May 2018 Enter McGregor’s persnickety great-nephew and heir, Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson in a rather too-sour turn), who has gone a mite berserk after being passed over for a promotion at the Harrods department store in London. Jane Horwitz, kansascity, "‘Peter Rabbit’ hops over the edge in this modern makeover," 8 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Long scored 64 points, and Union-Whitten won 113-107 in overtime before 15,000 berserk fans. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Warriors once drafted a woman to play in the NBA: Here’s her story," 9 Mar. 2018 Weather cooperating, the 720S is as quick as the quickest, ever: 0-to-60 mph in 2.8 seconds; 0-to-124 mph in a thoroughly berserk 7.8 seconds. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Why the $285,000 McLaren 720S Is the Shape of Things to Come," 13 July 2017 There are a couple of nifty Rube Goldbergian action sequences — one with a bank vault, the other with a guillotine — that recall the berserk inventiveness of Gore Verbinski, the original director. A. O. Scott, New York Times, "Review: ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales.’ Not Very Well, Anyway.," 25 May 2017

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


1839, 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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Dictionary Entries near berserk

Bersag horn







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Time Traveler for berserk

The first known use of berserk was in 1800

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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


ber·​serk | \ bə(r)-ˈsərk How to pronounce berserk (audio) , ˌbər- How to pronounce berserk (audio) , -ˈzərk, ˈbər-ˌ\

Medical Definition of berserk

: marked by crazed or frenzied behavior suggestive of sudden mental imbalance usually used in the phrase go berserk

Other Words from berserk

berserk adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on berserk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with berserk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for berserk

Spanish Central: Translation of berserk

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

Comments on berserk

What made you want to look up berserk? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

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