Definition of reprobate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an unprincipled or depraved person : scoundrel, rogue Cemeteries were seldom placed on the north side of a church, which, if used for burial at all, was reserved for unbaptized children, criminals, reprobates and suicides.— Rosemary Ellen Guiley



Definition of reprobate (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : morally corrupt : depraved
b : foreordained to damnation
2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a reprobate
3 : expressing or involving reprobation
4 archaic : rejected as worthless or not standing a test : condemned


rep·​ro·​bate | \ ˈre-prə-ˌbāt How to pronounce reprobate (audio) \
reprobated; reprobating

Definition of reprobate (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to condemn strongly as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil reprobating the laxity of the age
2 : to refuse to accept : reject
3 : to foreordain to damnation

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Other Words from reprobate


reprobative \ ˈre-​prə-​ˌbā-​tiv How to pronounce reprobative (audio) \ adjective
reprobatory \ ˈre-​prə-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce reprobatory (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for reprobate


criticize, reprehend, censure, reprobate, condemn, denounce mean to find fault with openly. criticize implies finding fault especially with methods or policies or intentions. criticized the police for using violence reprehend implies both criticism and severe rebuking. reprehends the self-centeredness of today's students censure carries a strong suggestion of authority and of reprimanding. a Senator formally censured by his peers reprobate implies strong disapproval or firm refusal to sanction. reprobated his son's unconventional lifestyle condemn usually suggests an unqualified and final unfavorable judgment. condemned the government's racial policies denounce adds to condemn the implication of a public declaration. a pastoral letter denouncing abortion

Did You Know?


These days, calling someone a "reprobate" is hardly a condemnation to hellfire and brimstone, but the original reprobates of the 16th century were hardened sinners who had fallen from God's grace. By the 19th century, "reprobate" had acquired the milder, but still utterly condemnatory, sense of "a depraved person." Gradually, though, the criticism implied by "reprobate" became touched with tolerance and even a bit of humor. It is now most likely to be used as it was in this August 1995 New Yorker magazine article about the death of musician Jerry Garcia: "It was suddenly obvious that Garcia had become, against all odds, an American icon: by Thursday morning, the avuncular old reprobate had smuggled his way onto the front pages of newspapers around the world."

Examples of reprobate in a Sentence


a program for rehabilitating hard-core reprobates and turning them into hard-working, law-abiding citizens


a reprobate judge who could be bribed, and often with astonishing ease


the board will most likely reprobate the request for parole without hesitation she reprobated such an indecent idea
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Today’s Rand movement is full of transgressors and reprobates. Alexander Sammon, The New Republic, "The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes," 14 Aug. 2019 Joann Jimenez described reprobates as people who have been rejected by God. Los Angeles Times, "Radical Baptist church preaches LGBTQ hate just miles from California’s Capitol," 2 Aug. 2019 Keep an eye out for those reprobates Jay and Silent Bob (aka Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) doing some dodgy deals with the principal which, ultimately, gets the 2007 grad party lit (for real). Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Drake Reunites the 'Degrassi' Class in Hilarious 'I'm Upset' Music Video, Reveals 'Scorpion' Release Date: Watch," 14 June 2018 Get our daily newsletter The scandal over Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women, and over the other reprobates exposed in his wake, is changing Hollywood irrevocably. The Economist, "The aftermath of the Weinstein scandal," 1 Mar. 2018 Baseball catches just a handful of reprobates each year. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Home Run Explosion Is Not Exactly Beyond Suspicion," 21 Sep. 2017 The mainstream media denounced such behavior, but that only emboldened some, cementing their image as reprobates. Michael Smolens,, "How would La Jolla's 'surf Nazis' fare these days?," 26 Aug. 2017 Mitchell also well handles the role of the Proustian character, the Baron de Charlus, a charming reprobate who comes to rue favoring rough trade. Theodore P. Mahne,, "Tennessee Williams' 'Camino Real' a wild dream that will jolt audiences," 31 July 2017 His surname did not derive from the Russian word for reprobate. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, "‘Rasputin’ Unravels the Myths of the ‘Mad Monk’," 29 Dec. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Bryan Cranston gets wild as a free-spirited, reprobate bar owner. Chris Ball,, "'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,' now on DVD and Blu-ray (review)," 4 Feb. 2018 Rather, Trump belongs to the great line of reprobate politicians, from James Michael Curley to Marion Barry, who thrive on notoriety and gain strength from scandal. Jeet Heer, New Republic, "#AlwaysTrump," 13 Sep. 2017

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

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First Known Use of reprobate


1592, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reprobate


Middle English, from Late Latin reprobatus, past participle of reprobare — more at reprove

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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The first known use of reprobate was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of reprobate

formal : a person who behaves in a morally wrong way

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