up·​braid ˌəp-ˈbrād How to pronounce upbraid (audio)
upbraided; upbraiding; upbraids

transitive verb

: to criticize severely : find fault with
: to reproach severely : scold vehemently
upbraider noun

Did you know?

First things first: do not confuse upbraid with topknot lest you be upbraided for it. Topknot is a noun referring to a hairstyle, while upbraid is a verb (and an ancient one at that) meaning “to criticize or scold severely.” However, it may soothe your pride to know that the braid in upbraid likely comes from the same source as our hirsutal verb braid, meaning “to do up (the hair) by interweaving three or more strands.” That source is the Old English word bregdan, which could be used to mean “to snatch,” “to move suddenly,” or “to plait,” i.e. “braid.” The Old English verb ūpbregdan is probably a combination of this bregdan with ūp, meaning “up.” If the connection between moving suddenly upward at someone and berating them seems obscure, you might consider upbraid to be a more formal counterpart of the expression “to get/be in someone’s face.”

Choose the Right Synonym for upbraid

scold, upbraid, berate, rail, revile, vituperate mean to reproach angrily and abusively.

scold implies rebuking in irritation or ill temper justly or unjustly.

angrily scolding the children

upbraid implies censuring on definite and usually justifiable grounds.

upbraided her assistants for poor research

berate suggests prolonged and often abusive scolding.

berated continually by an overbearing boss

rail (at or against) stresses an unrestrained berating.

railed loudly at their insolence

revile implies a scurrilous, abusive attack prompted by anger or hatred.

an alleged killer reviled in the press

vituperate suggests a violent reviling.

was vituperated for betraying his friends

Examples of upbraid in a Sentence

his wife upbraided him for his irresponsible handling of the family finances
Recent Examples on the Web Some sources point to friction with Soon-Shiong’s 30-year-old daughter, Nika Soon-Shiong, who in recent years has apparently appointed herself the paper’s unofficial ombudsman, publicly upbraiding journalists when their politics don’t fall in line with her own progressive thinking. Jason McGahan, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Jan. 2024 When audio leaked in late 2020 of Cruise upbraiding Mission: Impossible crew members for not following pandemic protocols, the overall reaction was less shock, more awe. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 15 July 2023 International institutions have repeatedly upbraided Italy on this front. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, 14 July 2023 In a scathing November 2020 ruling, L.A. Superior Court Judge William F. Fahey upbraided Adams for repeatedly racking up more in fees than the judge had authorized. Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 The sometimes tense on-air dynamic between Lemon and Collins became a topic of regular media gossip, marked by one incident in which Lemon upbraided his younger colleague off-set for attempting to speak over him on an episode. Jeremy Barr, Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023 In March, Ladapo was officially upbraided by the Food and Drug Administration for his campaign of misinformation about the vaccine. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 Tom steps in, upbraiding the older man for striking a girl. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 5 Mar. 2023 Five days after Vittert’s bosses upbraided him, Fox News aired a news conference where Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell made unfounded claims about Dominion helping to rig the election against Trump. Jeremy Barr, BostonGlobe.com, 3 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'upbraid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English upbreyden, from Old English ūpbregdan, probably from ūp up + bregdan to snatch, move suddenly — more at braid

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of upbraid was in the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near upbraid

Cite this Entry

“Upbraid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upbraid. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


up·​braid ˌəp-ˈbrād How to pronounce upbraid (audio)
: to criticize or scold severely

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