chas·​ten ˈchā-sᵊn How to pronounce chasten (audio)
chastened; chastening ˈchās-niŋ How to pronounce chasten (audio)

transitive verb

: to correct by punishment or suffering : discipline
If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men 2 Samuel 7: 14 (King James Version)
also : purify
: to prune (something, such as a work or style of art) of excess, pretense, or falsity : refine
: to cause to be more humble or restrained : subdue
He was chastened by his team's defeat.
ˈchās-nər How to pronounce chasten (audio)

Did you know?

If you say you would castigate or chastise someone in order to chasten them, you demonstrate a good knowledge of the origin of chasten—all three verbs derive from the Latin verb castigare, meaning "to punish." (Castigare combines Latin castus, which means "pure" and is the source of English chaste, with the verb agere, meaning "to lead" or "to drive.") Castigate, chastise, and chasten share the sense of "to subject to severe and often physical punishment," but all three verbs are now as likely to refer to a verbal dressing-down as to a physical lesson. Chasten (which arrived in English via Anglo-French chastier) can also be used to mean "to prune of excess, pretense, or falsity." This led to the more general sense of "to make more subdued," although the humility can be imposed by a humiliating situation as easily as by a strict taskmaster.

Choose the Right Synonym for chasten

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

chastened the child with five minutes of sitting in the corner the unexpected loss to a second-rate player really chastened the tournament's top-seeded tennis star
Recent Examples on the Web Republicans used the attacks to scold and chasten mainstream environmentalists. New York Times, 26 May 2022 This is a player who openly embraces pressure, who wants the ball in stressful situations and who carries herself so confidently as to publicly chasten Barack Obama and Jimmy Fallon for their misguided tournament brackets. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 2 Apr. 2022 In each of these trouble spots, President Biden’s handling of Ukraine will either chasten or embolden our adversaries, setting the tone for global power for years to come. Roger Wicker, National Review, 18 Feb. 2022 What’s missing from the picture is the threat of discovery, the dangling sword of Damocles that might chasten anyone taking so much responsibility on themselves. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Jan. 2022 Is that at all going to chasten more Republicans other than Mitch McConnell? NBC News, 19 Dec. 2021 Only a Trump victory will suitably chasten the many sensible and somewhat highbrow Reagan Republicans who deserted Trump for reasons ranging from outright treachery to tactical misjudgment to mere snobbery. Conrad Black, National Review, 28 Oct. 2020 The desire to chasten American frackers remains, though. The Economist, 11 June 2020 But the Victoria Woodhull who emerged like the phoenix from the ashes of her demolished life was a new and chastened person. John Strausbaugh, National Review, 8 Feb. 2020 See More

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

Word History


alteration of obsolete English chaste to chasten, from Middle English, from Anglo-French chastier, from Latin castigare, from castus + -igare (from agere to drive) — more at act

First Known Use

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chasten was in 1526


Dictionary Entries Near chasten

Cite this Entry

“Chasten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



chas·​ten ˈchās-ᵊn How to pronounce chasten (audio)
chastened; chastening ˈchās-niŋ How to pronounce chasten (audio)
: to correct by punishment or suffering

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