2 a : to prune (something, such as a work or style of art) of excess, pretense, or falsity : refine
b : to cause to be more humble or restrained : subdue
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.
He was very arrogant as a younger man, but he has been sufficiently chastened by life's hardships and is now more cognizant of his own failings and weaknesses.
"My hubris awakened the wrath of the Phlegm Gods who long ago decreed that should one choose to live in Austin, 'It's not if you will develop allergies, it's when.' To chasten me they sent us one of the wettest winters on record just to get every tree, shrub and blade of grass within breathing distance in the mood." — Sarah Bird, The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, 14 Apr. 2019
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Unscramble the letters to create a verb meaning "to set free from the consequences of guilt": BEAVLOS.VIEW THE ANSWER
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