\ˈskərj, ˈskȯrj, ˈsku̇rj\

Definition of scourge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : whip especially : one used to inflict pain or punishment

2 : an instrument of punishment or criticism

3 : a cause of wide or great affliction


scourged; scourging

Definition of scourge (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : flog, whip

2a : to punish severely

b : afflict

c : to drive as if by blows of a whip

d : chastise

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Other Words from scourge


scourger noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for scourge

Synonyms: Noun

affliction, bane, curse, nemesis

Synonyms: Verb

birch, cowhide, flagellate, flail, flog, hide, horsewhip, lash, leather, rawhide, slash, switch, tan, thrash, whale, whip

Antonyms: Noun

benefit, blessing, boon, felicity, godsend, good, manna, windfall

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Examples of scourge in a Sentence


a city ravaged by the scourge of unemployment The disease continues to be a scourge in the developing world.


a neighborhood scourged by crime The prisoner was scourged with a whip.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Efforts to eradicate the invasive species proved fruitless: the gypsy moth remains a scourge to this day. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "These 19th-century astronomical drawings show the beauty of cosmos," 30 Sep. 2018 But Eighth Grade marks him as an unusually empathetic and humanist director — and as perhaps the first filmmaker to really grapple with the internet not as a blessing or a scourge but as a simple fact of life. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham on what most movies get wrong about the internet," 25 Aug. 2018 The explosion of e-waste highlights its dual (and dueling) identities as both environmental scourge and potential economic resource. New York Times, "E-Waste Offers an Economic Opportunity as Well as Toxicity," 5 July 2018 Hunger fighters try to beat back the scourge, which has gripped thousands. Alfred Lubrano,, "Hunger haunts Philly. These are the voices of its pain," 21 May 2018 Once considered the scourge of the Tea Party, he is now viewed as a rock star by the activist Republican base across the country. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "How Devin Nunes Turned the House Intelligence Committee Inside Out," 24 Apr. 2018 Perhaps most remarkable is the collective imagination of students across the United States, who dared to take on a challenge that their parents, aunts, and uncles had all but abandoned: stopping the scourge of gun violence. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "One Secret to Great Leaders: They Never Let Imagination Die," 19 Apr. 2018 America’s heroin and opioid scourge is intimate and distant, resounding and silent. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Documentary films explore the despair of America's heroin and opioid epidemic," 6 July 2018 The judge overseeing the case, Dan Aaron Polster of the Northern District of Ohio, said during a January hearing that this scourge was man-made and that lawyers need to reach a resolution quickly, because approximately 150 people are dying each day. Katie Zezima, Anchorage Daily News, "An epic battle over the opioid crisis moves to an Ohio courtroom," 8 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Since then, as The Los Angeles Times reported, the resulting blaze had scorched 121,000 acres, destroyed 1,564 buildings, killed six, and scourged the city of Redding and the surrounding area, a little over 200 miles north of San Francisco. Lauren Young, Teen Vogue, "California Wildfires Are Proof of Climate Change, According to Governor Jerry Brown," 2 Aug. 2018 From their first dogfights in December 1941 until their contracts expired in July 1942, the Tigers scourged the enemy with breathtaking courage. Gregory Crouch, WSJ, "‘The Flying Tigers’ and ‘A Few Planes for China’ Review: Tigers Over a Rising Sun," 19 July 2018 The single-use plastic straw — colorful, functional and handed out in bunches — has suddenly shifted from consumer staple to scourge, projected by some critics to foul ecosystems for an eon. Robert Channick,, "From a South Side plastics factory to McDonald's HQ, Chicago is on the front lines of anti-straw push," 11 June 2018 There also will be a scourging pillar, a Roman lance, and a life-size corpus on the cross that portrays a dramatic scene, as well as various other items of that time. Joanne Berger Dumound/special To,, "Local lecturer brings world class Shroud of Turin exhibit to Greater Cleveland," 19 Feb. 2018 Any progressive politician who wants to gain power has to find common interests with some of them, without waiting for the day of reckoning first to scourge white Americans of their original sin. Rosa Inocencio Smith, The Atlantic, "The Atlantic Daily: Mission and Missile," 15 Sep. 2017 While historic extremes of weather recently scourged Texas, Washington’s summer was largely without extremes, based on National Weather Service data released Friday. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Washington area’s summer months come to end largely without extremes," 1 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scourge.' 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 scourge


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scourge


Middle English, from Anglo-French escorge, from escorger to whip, from Vulgar Latin *excorrigiare, from Latin ex- + corrigia thong, whip

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Statistics for scourge

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scourge

The first known use of scourge was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for scourge



English Language Learners Definition of scourge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: someone or something that causes a great amount of trouble or suffering

: a whip that was used to punish people in the past



English Language Learners Definition of scourge (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause a lot of trouble or suffering for (someone or something)

: to hit (someone) with a whip as punishment


\ˈskərj \

Kids Definition of scourge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cause of widespread or great suffering The disease is a scourge in rural areas.


scourged; scourging

Kids Definition of scourge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause trouble or suffering to : afflict Crime scourges the neighborhood.

2 : to whip severely : flog

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More from Merriam-Webster on scourge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scourge

Spanish Central: Translation of scourge

Nglish: Translation of scourge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scourge for Arabic Speakers

Comments on scourge

What made you want to look up scourge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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