chas·​ten ˈchā-sᵊn How to pronounce chasten (audio)
chastened; chastening ˈchās-niŋ How to pronounce chasten (audio)

transitive verb

: to correct by punishment or suffering : discipline
If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men2 Samuel 7: 14 (King James Version)
also : purify
: to prune (something, such as a work or style of art) of excess, pretense, or falsity : refine
: to cause to be more humble or restrained : subdue
He was chastened by his team's defeat.
ˈchās-nər How to pronounce chasten (audio)

Did you know?

Buck up, logophiles! There’s no need to fret if you have a hard time sussing out the finer distinctions between chasten, castigate, and chastise, three verbs with overlapping histories and meanings. All three come (via different routes) from the Latin verb castīgāre, meaning "to punish," and all have been used to refer to physical punishment, but today are more likely to refer to a verbal dressing-down than a rap on the knuckles (or worse). However, while one is usually castigated or chastised by another person, one can be chastened—made to feel humility or embarrassment—by a humbling situation or experience. Just don’t let encountering an unfamiliar or subtle word be one of them; that’s what we’re here for.

Choose the Right Synonym for chasten

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing.

punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing.

punished for stealing

chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation.

chastised his son for neglecting his studies

castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure.

an editorial castigating the entire city council

chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued.

chastened by a landslide election defeat

discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control.

parents must discipline their children

correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender.

the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

Examples of chasten in a Sentence

chastened the child with five minutes of sitting in the corner the unexpected loss to a second-rate player really chastened the tournament's top-seeded tennis star
Recent Examples on the Web There should be no question of whether Indiana needed some soul searching, after a pair of chastening defeats last week. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 24 Jan. 2024 With chastening facility, Aviv shows how these stories both mirror and are shaped by systems of race, class, gender, generation, and context. Chris Strathmann, Hazlitt, 18 Oct. 2023 In May, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a chastening defeat in a high-stakes election in Karnataka, the southern-Indian state that is home to Bangalore and a powerhouse of India’s information-technology sector. Vaibhav Vats, The Atlantic, 30 Aug. 2023 Those who believed that the Venezuelan opposition's gains in the September 2010 midterm elections would chasten President Hugo Chávez have seen their hopes dashed in the past six weeks. Christopher Sabatini, Foreign Affairs, 7 Jan. 2011 And when a new romance enters the picture, our expectation of eventual conflict starts to feel chastening when what Hers really has in mind is an unremarkably lovely depiction of human beings negotiating a healthy new relationship. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2023 At the heart of the Nicomachean Ethics is a claim that remains both edifying and chastening: phronesis doesn’t come that easy. Nikhil Krishnan, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 This double chastening is at the heart of what propels Gurnah’s fiction: the impossibility of belonging, and the way rootlessness thwarts a sense of a real future anywhere. Nadifa Mohamed, Harper's Magazine, 15 June 2022 This should be a chastening moment for revanchist forces in Tennessee’s legislature and across the country. Elise Hammond, CNN, 12 Apr. 2023

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

Word History


extension with -en entry 2 of earlier chaste "to correct by punishment, discipline," going back to Middle English chasten, borrowed from Anglo-French chastier, castier, caster (also continental Old French castier, chastier, chastoier), going back to Latin castīgāre "to discipline for a fault or lapse, reprove, censure" — more at castigate

Note: Alongside a verb stem chaste in Middle English is a variant chasty, with the medial -i- of the French form taken as part of the stem.

First Known Use

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chasten was in 1526


Dictionary Entries Near chasten

Cite this Entry

“Chasten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


chas·​ten ˈchās-ᵊn How to pronounce chasten (audio)
chastened; chastening ˈchās-niŋ How to pronounce chasten (audio)
: to correct by punishment or suffering

More from Merriam-Webster on chasten

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