- 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 berserker
As for the other two famous images, the blood eagle and the berserker—those are the result of mistranslations.How the Vikings Saved Europe and Got a Terrible Reputation
September 17, 2014
Then in the Jam-wagon there awoke the ancient spirit of the Berserker.The Trail of '98
Robert W. Service
In Berserker madness, torrent and uproar, clashed the two colours.The Long Roll
But he was no match for the berserker rage which had transformed the man from the woods.Joan of Arc of the North Woods
He believeth thee the slayer of Sikend the Berserker from under the bridge.
I want to let him know the truth about that affair of Sikend the Berserker.
- 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 berserker
alternative form of berserk (q.v.), from Old Norse berserkr, accusative of berserk. This is the oldest form of the word in its revival in Modern English (1822), and perhaps Scott, who introduced it, mistook the -r for an agent-noun suffix. Further compicated because it has the form of the Old Norse plural, and English berserker sometimes is plural.
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).