- violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged: He suddenly went berserk.
- (sometimes initial capital letter) Scandinavian Legend. Also ber·serk·er. an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Origin of berserk
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for berserk
What we are seeing is the good, old American Berserk in action.Is Obama the New Nixon?
September 15, 2009
I am ordered to send this berserk with a troop of nineteen men to waylay thee.
“King Harald would speak with thee,” said the man, who was no other than Hake the berserk.
A sort of berserk rage possessed him at the sight of that wound.The Black Buccaneer
Stephen W. Meader
He had all the fervour of the fanatic, and when he prayed his eyes assumed a Berserk look.The Secrets of a Kuttite
Edward O. Mousley
One never gets used to the bulk and height of these berserk Campanias.A Fleet in Being
- frenziedly violent or destructive (esp in the phrase go berserk)
- Also called: berserker a member of a class of ancient Norse warriors who worked themselves into a frenzy before battle and fought with insane fury and courage
Word Origin and History for berserk
1844, from berserk (n.) "Norse warrior," by 1835, an alternative form of berserker (1822), a word which was introduced by Sir Walter Scott, from Old Norse berserkr (n.) "raging warrior of superhuman strength;" probably from *ber- "bear" + serkr "shirt," thus literally "a warrior clothed in bearskin." Thus not from Old Norse berr "bare, naked."
Thorkelin, in the essay on the Berserkir, appended to his edition of the Krisini Saga, tells that an old name of the Berserk frenzy was hamremmi, i.e., strength acquired from another strange body, because it was anciently believed that the persons who were liable to this frenzy were mysteriously endowed, during its accesses, with a strange body of unearthly strength. If, however, the Berserk was called on by his own name, he lost his mysterious form, and his ordinary strength alone remained. ["Notes and Queries," Dec. 28, 1850]
The adjectival use probably is from such phrases as berserk frenzy, or as a title (Arngrim the Berserk).