\ ˈskərj How to pronounce scourge (audio) , 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 for scourge

Synonyms: Noun

flogger, lash, switch, whip

Synonyms: Verb

destroy, devastate, ravage, ruin

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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

But Buzzfeed reporter Craig Silverman has investigated a smaller scale but no less misleading scourge: the consultants who can bury unpleasant Google search results. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "How Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft Created an Eavesdropping Explosion—Data Sheet," 8 Aug. 2019 The hotel tax and bond proposals could go a long way to alleviate current-day scourges in San Diego: the high cost of housing and people living without shelter. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Ballot measures could bring far-reaching changes to San Diego," 2 Aug. 2019 Marijuana, once a scourge of resident advisers across college campuses, is now finding a home in academia -- even inside the Ivy League. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "At some colleges, students can now bone up on marijuana," 29 July 2019 But the scourge of worker wellness programs elsewhere continues unabated, for private- and public-sector workers alike. Lena Solow, The New Republic, "The Scourge of Worker Wellness Programs," 2 Sep. 2019 Then came the deadly scourge of crack cocaine and PCP, which persists along with a surge in opioid and synthetic marijuana overdoses. Washington Post, "Ron Clark helped many break the bonds of addiction. He understood drugs were only part of the problem.," 23 Aug. 2019 The ransomware scourge continues apace, with new local governments and municipalities suffering particularly visible attacks every month. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Security News This Week: China Distributes Spyware at Its Border and Beyond," 6 July 2019 If these hurdles can be surmounted, though, PETase might make a dent in the scourge of plastic waste. The Economist, "An enzyme that digests plastic could boost recycling," 16 Apr. 2018 Rates of domestic violence in the United States declined by more than 60% from 1994 to 2010, but the scourge of abuse still touches millions of Americans. Natalie Schreyer, USA TODAY, "Domestic abusers: Dangerous for women — and lethal for cops," 9 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After a wet few years in the Great Lakes basin, the Lake Michigan water levels tied a record July high from 1986 — and that’s less than six years after record low levels scourged the region in 2013. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The water levels on Lake Michigan tied a 33-year-old record high this July. Boaters are seeing the effects," 5 Aug. 2019 Powerful air armadas scourged German defenses, with 750 to 1000 Flying Fortresses and Liberators mauling bridges, railroad targets and airfields in an arc 100 to 150 miles south of the beachhead. Houston Chronicle, "FIRST INVASION GOAL REACHED," 9 June 2019 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

1 Oct 2019

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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)

formal + literary : 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)

formal + literary
: to cause a lot of trouble or suffering for (someone or something)
: to hit (someone) with a whip as punishment


\ ˈskərj How to pronounce scourge (audio) \

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

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