ad·​mon·​ish ad-ˈmä-nish How to pronounce admonish (audio)
admonished; admonishing; admonishes

transitive verb

: to indicate duties or obligations to
: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner
were admonished for being late
: to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to
admonished them to be careful
… users are admonished to change passwords regularly … Mark Pothier
: to say (something) as advice or a warning
The sign admonished, "Watch your step."
"Please be silent while I tell my story," LaPautre admonished. Louise Erdrich
admonisher noun
plural admonishers
admonishment noun
plural admonishments

Did you know?

When should you use admonish?

We won't admonish you if you don't know the origins of this word—its current meanings have strayed slightly from its history. Admonish was borrowed in the 14th century (via Anglo-French amonester) from Vulgar Latin admonestāre, which itself is probably a derivative of admonestus, the past participle of the Latin verb admonēre, meaning "to warn."  Admonēre, in turn, was formed by the combination of the prefix ad- and monēre, "to warn." Other descendants of monēre in English include monitor, monitory ("giving a warning"), premonition, and an archaic synonym of admonish, monish. Incidentally, admonish has a number of other synonyms as well, including reprove, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, and chide.

Choose the Right Synonym for admonish

reprove, rebuke, reprimand, admonish, reproach, chide mean to criticize adversely.

reprove implies an often kindly intent to correct a fault.

gently reproved my table manners

rebuke suggests a sharp or stern reproof.

the papal letter rebuked dissenting clerics

reprimand implies a severe, formal, often public or official rebuke.

reprimanded by the ethics committee

admonish suggests earnest or friendly warning and counsel.

admonished by my parents to control expenses

reproach and chide suggest displeasure or disappointment expressed in mild reproof or scolding.

reproached him for tardiness
chided by their mother for untidiness

Example Sentences

"You landed in back of him," said Paul, my guide and friend. As he admonished me, the fish turned obligingly, opened its mouth, wide and white, and engulfed my fly. Peter Kaminsky, New York Times, 17 June 2001 He is sympathetic but never condescending, or patronizing, or moralizing. His purpose is not to admonish or deplore but to understand. C. Vann Woodward, New York Times Book Review, 5 Feb. 1989 Cops are, from the first day in the academy, admonished that juveniles must not be shot unless in dire emergency … Joseph Wambaugh, Lines and Shadows, 1984 They were admonished to take advantage of the opportunity. my physician is always admonishing me to eat more healthy foods
Recent Examples on the Web Employees don’t know if the manager will praise or admonish their work. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 Distressed about my worsening vision in elementary school, my mother would regularly admonish me, standing my pencil case upright to measure the distance between my head and my desk. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 13 Sep. 2022 An exuberant Yaz popped up from the turf after the tumbling circus catch and raised high his right arm, brandishing the ball as if to admonish the baseball gods that were so routinely cruel to early-’60s Sox. Kevin Paul Dupont,, 20 Aug. 2022 Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Bjorn Lomborg, WSJ, 20 June 2022 Insulted and angry, residents have been showing up at public meetings since March, unsuccessfully demanding DiPierro’s resignation and pleading with his fellow councilors to formally admonish him. Globe Staff,, 23 May 2022 Frequent errors on tenant screening reports, often related to false eviction reports or criminal records, led government watchdogs to admonish the industry last year to improve its accuracy. ProPublica, 31 Mar. 2022 Burns had to pause the proceedings several times, to tell Zaloun to answer the questions and admonish the defense not to repeat questions. Megan Crepeau,, 30 Sep. 2021 According to linguistics expert, Maxine Ali, the word wasn’t always used to admonish people. Rose Stokes,, 26 Dec. 2021 See More

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

Word History


Middle English amonysshen, admonisshen, amonescen, alteration (with assimilation to the verbal suffix -issh, -esce, borrowed from Anglo-French -iss-, going back to the Latin inceptive suffix -ēsc-, -īsc-) of amonesten, borrowed from Anglo-French amonester, going back to Vulgar Latin *admonestāre, probably derivative of *admonestus, past participle of Latin admonēre "to give a reminder to, give advice to, caution" (modeled on comestus, past participle of comedere "to eat up, consume") from ad- ad- + monēre "to bring to the notice of, give warning" — more at mind entry 1

Note: The source of *admonestāre is uncertain. A cross between admonēre and molestāre, "to disturb, annoy, worry," has been hypothesized, though the lack of any Romance progeny for molestus, molestāre, etc., militates against the presence of this verb in proto-Romance.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of admonish was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near admonish

Cite this Entry

“Admonish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ad·​mon·​ish ad-ˈmän-ish How to pronounce admonish (audio)
: to criticize or warn gently but seriously : warn of a fault
: to give friendly advice or encouragement to
admonished them to keep trying
admonishment noun

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