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berate

A strong verb for harshly cutting someone down with words is berate. "He didn't just correct the cashier who gave him the wrong change — he started to berate her, calling her names in front of the whole store."

When you berate someone, you do more than just raise your voice at them; berate implies putting someone down by insulting their character. This word comes from a 16th-century English and French root meaning "to scold or blame." Often the anger behind the scolding seems over-the-top, as in "When the young man behind the counter dropped the scoop of vanilla, the manager berated him excessively by declaring him worthless and weak."

Definitions of berate
  1. verb
    censure severely or angrily
    synonyms: bawl out, call down, call on the carpet, chew out, chew up, chide, dress down, have words, jaw, lambast, lambaste, lecture, rag, rebuke, remonstrate, reprimand, reproof, scathe, scold, take to task, trounce, vituperate
    see moresee less
    types:
    castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, objurgate
    censure severely
    brush down, tell off
    reprimand
    flame
    criticize harshly, usually via an electronic medium
    type of:
    criticise, criticize, knock, pick apart
    find fault with; express criticism of; point out real or perceived flaws
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