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 The term is often applied to women who engage in chisme to devalue their information and castigate their knowledge. Lizeth Gutierrez,, 14 Nov. 2022 The Mirror‘s front page similarly led with the Sussexes, but the tabloid chose to castigate all parties for focusing on the royal soap opera amid a cost of living crisis. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Dec. 2022 Everybody who wanted to castigate us for depicting it hadn’t seen the episode. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 11 Nov. 2022 The characters in the movie also take time to castigate others who don't use correct language. Angie Orellana Hernandez, USA TODAY, 5 Aug. 2022 Royal experts tend to castigate Meghan and Prince Harry for not following the rules, speaking out of turn, and widening the family rift. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 5 Aug. 2022 Carlson is primed to castigate the mainstream press—how many Fox anchors have made a living doing just that?—but that political dynamic isn’t coded the same way in Brazil. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 1 July 2022 Opponents say Campbell is not progressive enough and castigate her for not pledging to keep super PAC money out of the election. Globe Staff,, 4 July 2022 Since Johnson, though, Republicans have largely been able to castigate Democrats as weak. Bill Donahue, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 See More

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.

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 26 Jan. 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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