cas·​ti·​gate ˈka-stə-ˌgāt How to pronounce castigate (audio)
castigated; castigating

transitive verb

: to subject to severe punishment, reproof, or criticism
The judge castigated the lawyers for their lack of preparation.
castigation noun
castigator noun

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, while chasten dates to the early 16th century and chastise has been found in use as far back as the 14th.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

The author castigated the prime minister as an ineffective leader. castigated him for his constant tardiness
Recent Examples on the Web Gorsuch also appeared to castigate the pork lobby’s Supreme Court challenge. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 12 May 2023 Some Republicans, including those in his district, have sharply castigated Santos for his dishonesty. Michael Balsamo, Fortune, 9 May 2023 The organization even purchased a full-page advertisement in The Times castigating Mayor Eric Garcetti for not helping. Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2023 Like many other conservatives, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham made time this week to castigate Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for preparing to indict former President Donald Trump in the coming days or weeks. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 22 Mar. 2023 Bryant has waged an intense battle with the county, even using her social media cache to castigate the sheriff and name the deputies linked to the photo scandal. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2021 The House on Monday passed the first significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its birth a decade ago, providing Democrats a high-wattage platform to castigate President Trump for his efforts to overturn the landmark law during a pandemic and an election year. Washington Post, 30 June 2020 Oil’s top advocate in Washington, the American Petroleum Institute’s Mike Sommers, said Biden was exacerbating problems by castigating U.S. oil companies from the White House rather than hosting their executives for in-person meetings there. Timothy Puko, Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2023 About a month after Mr. Trump used his convention to castigate Mr. Biden and his party in false terms as allies of rioters and criminals, the president is not seen by most voters as a successful law-and-order president. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, 27 Sep. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'castigate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin castigatus, past participle of castigare — more at chasten

First Known Use

1606, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of castigate was in 1606


Dictionary Entries Near castigate

Cite this Entry

“Castigate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


cas·​ti·​gate ˈkas-tə-ˌgāt How to pronounce castigate (audio)
castigated; castigating
: to punish, scold, or criticize harshly
castigation noun
castigator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on castigate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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