Definition of reprobate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an unprincipled or depraved person : scoundrel, rogue Cemeteries were seldom placed on the north side of a church, which, if used for burial at all, was reserved for unbaptized children, criminals, reprobates and suicides.— Rosemary Ellen Guiley



Definition of reprobate (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : morally corrupt : depraved
b : foreordained to damnation
2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a reprobate reprobate conduct
3 : expressing or involving reprobation
4 archaic : rejected as worthless or not standing a test : condemned


rep·​ro·​bate | \ ˈre-prə-ˌbāt How to pronounce reprobate (audio) \
reprobated; reprobating

Definition of reprobate (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to condemn strongly as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil reprobating the laxity of the age
2 : to refuse to accept : reject
3 : to foreordain to damnation

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Other Words from reprobate


reprobative \ ˈre-​prə-​ˌbā-​tiv How to pronounce reprobate (audio) \ adjective
reprobatory \ ˈre-​prə-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce reprobate (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for reprobate


criticize, reprehend, censure, reprobate, condemn, denounce mean to find fault with openly. criticize implies finding fault especially with methods or policies or intentions. criticized the police for using violence reprehend implies both criticism and severe rebuking. reprehends the self-centeredness of today's students censure carries a strong suggestion of authority and of reprimanding. a Senator formally censured by his peers reprobate implies strong disapproval or firm refusal to sanction. reprobated his son's unconventional lifestyle condemn usually suggests an unqualified and final unfavorable judgment. condemned the government's racial policies denounce adds to condemn the implication of a public declaration. a pastoral letter denouncing abortion

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These days, calling someone a "reprobate" is hardly a condemnation to hellfire and brimstone, but the original reprobates of the 16th century were hardened sinners who had fallen from God's grace. By the 19th century, "reprobate" had acquired the milder, but still utterly condemnatory, sense of "a depraved person." Gradually, though, the criticism implied by "reprobate" became touched with tolerance and even a bit of humor. It is now most likely to be used as it was in this August 1995 New Yorker magazine article about the death of musician Jerry Garcia: "It was suddenly obvious that Garcia had become, against all odds, an American icon: by Thursday morning, the avuncular old reprobate had smuggled his way onto the front pages of newspapers around the world."

Examples of reprobate in a Sentence

Noun a program for rehabilitating hard-core reprobates and turning them into hard-working, law-abiding citizens Adjective a reprobate judge who could be bribed, and often with astonishing ease Verb the board will most likely reprobate the request for parole without hesitation she reprobated such an indecent idea
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Occam's Razor cuts through the noise to suggest Americans aren't through electing a reprobate, a criminal and an utter nincompoop. Arkansas Online, 23 June 2021 Jack is variously described and self-described as a ne’er-do-well, a reprobate, a black sheep and a scoundrel. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 25 Sep. 2020 Rap’s current wanton generation has forsaken that foundation — especially such reprobates as T.I., who argue simplistically against West’s political conversion and his walking away from the Democratic party. Armond White, National Review, 30 Oct. 2019 Today’s Rand movement is full of transgressors and reprobates. Alexander Sammon, The New Republic, 14 Aug. 2019 Joann Jimenez described reprobates as people who have been rejected by God. Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2019 Keep an eye out for those reprobates Jay and Silent Bob (aka Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) doing some dodgy deals with the principal which, ultimately, gets the 2007 grad party lit (for real). Lars Brandle, Billboard, 14 June 2018 Get our daily newsletter The scandal over Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women, and over the other reprobates exposed in his wake, is changing Hollywood irrevocably. The Economist, 1 Mar. 2018 Baseball catches just a handful of reprobates each year. Michael Powell, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective She was booted from her GOP leadership spot for refusing to go along with her reprobate and deceitful Republican colleagues, who continue to lay prostrate before former President Donald Trump and bleat that the election was stolen from him. Mika Brzezinski, NBC News, 17 May 2021 That’s when Regina’s sardonic sister (Wanda Skyes, the show’s co-creator) steps in and lets him and his reprobate pals have it. Jeanne Jakle, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Apr. 2021 For reference, consider the late, reprobate Southwest Conference. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 13 Jan. 2020 While Brussels often pulls its punches on enforcing the rules, the stigma of being a fiscal pariah can be enough to rattle financial markets and push reprobate countries into compliance. Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2019 Bryan Cranston gets wild as a free-spirited, reprobate bar owner. Chris Ball,, 4 Feb. 2018 Rather, Trump belongs to the great line of reprobate politicians, from James Michael Curley to Marion Barry, who thrive on notoriety and gain strength from scandal. Jeet Heer, New Republic, 13 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some of it was the sheer allure of mischief-making, the unrepentant reprobate being more compelling than the nice guy. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2021 Lemme hear from you reprobates who bet the rent money and lost. Paul Daugherty,, 28 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reprobate.' 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 reprobate


1592, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for reprobate


Middle English, from Late Latin reprobatus, past participle of reprobare — more at reprove

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The first known use of reprobate was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Reprobate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of reprobate

: a person who behaves in a morally wrong way


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