Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



July 25th, 2016

Episode 596 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 25, 2016 is: berate \bih-RAYT\ verb : to scold or condemn vehemently and at length Examples: When her son arrived home way past curfew without so much as a phone call or text, Nancy berated him for his lack of consideration. "We'd announced the tour and Mick looked at it and went, 'I can't do this,' which was not great news at all. I wanted to slightly berate him, 'What the heck?!,' but he sounded so sad. He really wasn't up to it." — Paul Rodgers, Billboard.com, 13 April 2016 Did you know? Berate and rate can both mean "to scold angrily or violently." This sense of rate was first recorded in the 14th century, roughly two centuries before the now more familiar (and etymologically unrelated) rate meaning "to estimate the value of." We know that berate was probably formed by combining be and the older rate, but the origins of this particular rate itself are somewhat more obscure. We can trace the word back to the Middle English form raten, but beyond that things get a little murky. It's possible that rate, and by extension berate, derives from the same ancient word that led to the Swedish rata (meaning "to find blame, despise") and earlier the Old Norse hrata ("to fall, stagger"), but this is uncertain.