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)." They both also happen to come from the same Latin root, the verb castīgāre, meaning "to discipline for a fault or lapse; reprove, censure." Castīgāre is also the source of chasten, which can also mean "to discipline by punishment" but more commonly means "to subdue or make humble," as in "chastened by my foolish error." Castigate is the newest of the three verbs; current evidence dates it to 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

Examples of castigate in a Sentence

The author castigated the prime minister as an ineffective leader. castigated him for his constant tardiness
Recent Examples on the Web The report repeatedly castigates Israel’s allies and the United Nations for ignoring Palestinians’ plight. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 6 Feb. 2024 Biden, 81, appeared hesitant and stammered in some of his answers, his eyes cast downward as Trump castigated him. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2024 His teacher, apparently dissatisfied with his performance, shamed him in front of the class, castigating the student for falling short of the promise purportedly shown by his peers. Michael Mitsanas and Chou Lee / Seoul, TIME, 13 June 2024 The sites attempt to impersonate French outlets Le Parisien and Le Point to amplify the claims and castigate French President Emmanuel Macron and his government. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 5 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for castigate 

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


borrowed from Latin castīgātus, past participle of castīgāre "to discipline for a fault or lapse, reprove, censure," perhaps from *casti-, stem of *castis "reprimand" (going back to Indo-European *ḱHs-ti-, whence also Sanskrit śiṣṭi- "instruction") + *-ig-, going back to Indo-European -h2ǵ-, zero-grade of *h2eǵ- "drive, impel, lead" — more at agent

Note: This etymology follows G. Dunkel, "Latin verbs in -igāre and -īgāre," 125 Jahre Indogermanistik in Graz (Graz: Leykam, 2000), pp. 87-99. According to the older conventional explanation, the initial element is the adjective castus "free from, untouched (by the thing specified), pure, not sexually promiscuous" (see chaste), but semantically this is a poor fit, and does not clearly account for the long ī. On the other hand, Dunkel's hypothesis would mean that Indo-European *ḱeHs- shows up in Latin only in this presumed i-stem derivative and nowhere else, unless castus itself can be attributed to the same etymon—but again that does not fit well semantically ("instruct, reprove" > "pure"?). See also the note at chaste.

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 22 Jul. 2024.

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

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