verb cas·ti·gate \ ˈkas-tə-ˌgāt \
|Updated on: 2 Aug 2018

Definition of castigate

castigated; castigating
: to subject to severe punishment, reproof, or criticism
  • The judge castigated the lawyers for their lack of preparation.


play \ˌkas-tə-ˈgā-shən\ noun


play \ˈkas-tə-ˌgā-tər\ noun

castigate was our Word of the Day on 05/17/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of castigate in a Sentence

  1. The author castigated the prime minister as an ineffective leader.

  2. castigated him for his constant tardiness

Recent Examples of castigate from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Castigate has a synonym in chastise - both verbs mean to punish or to censure someone. Fittingly, both words derive from the same root: the Latin castigare, formed from the words for "pure" (castus) and "to drive" (agere). (Castus also gave us the noun caste, meaning "social class or rank.") Another verb derived from castigare is chasten, which can also mean "to discipline by punishment" but more commonly means "to subdue or make humble" (as in "chastened by his foolish error"). Castigate is the youngest of the three verbs in English, dating from the early 17th century, some three centuries after chasten and chastise.

Origin and Etymology of castigate

Latin castigatus, past participle of castigare — more at chasten

Synonym Discussion of castigate

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing. punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing.
    • punished for stealing
chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation.
    • chastised his son for neglecting his studies
castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure.
    • an editorial castigating the entire city council
chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued.
    • chastened by a landslide election defeat
discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control.
    • parents must discipline their children
correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender.
    • the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

CASTIGATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of castigate for English Language Learners

  • : to criticize (someone) harshly

CASTIGATE Defined for Kids


verb cas·ti·gate \ ˈka-stə-ˌgāt \

Definition of castigate for Students

castigated; castigating
: to punish or criticize harshly

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