To scathe is to obliterate something as if you'd burned it to ashes — or to direct ferocious, fiery disapproval or anger in the direction of a person.

The verb scathe is pretty old-fashioned; these days you're more likely to encounter the adjectives scathing and unscathed. The word derives from a root meaning "to harm or injure," and it was once used in both a literal and figurative way. Long ago, you might have scathed your old love letters by burning them in the fireplace, and then scathed your sister by telling her to get lost when she asked what you were doing.

Definitions of scathe
  1. noun
    the act of damaging something or someone
    synonyms: damage, harm, hurt
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    damage that results in a reduction of strength or quality
    defacement, disfiguration, disfigurement
    the act of damaging the appearance or surface of something
    wound, wounding
    the act of inflicting a wound
    damage inflicted by fire
    an act that despoils the innocence or beauty of something
    the act of severely damaging or ruining something
    the act of burning with steam or hot water
    type of:
    change of integrity
    the act of changing the unity or wholeness of something
  2. verb
    destroy completely by or as if by fire
    synonyms: scorch
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    type of:
    burn, burn down, fire
    destroy by fire
  3. verb
    censure severely or angrily
    synonyms: bawl out, berate, call down, call on the carpet, chew out, chew up, chide, dress down, have words, jaw, lambast, lambaste, lecture, rag, rebuke, remonstrate, reprimand, reproof, scold, take to task, trounce, vituperate
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    castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, objurgate
    censure severely
    brush down, tell off
    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
Word Family

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