Origin of berserk
Examples from the Web for berserk
What we are seeing is the good, old American Berserk in action.
There the berserk Hake came against him with thirty men, and they fought.Heimskringla|Snorri Sturlason
He broke savagely through the brush in the direction of the sound, whistling shrilly as he ran, his fear drowned in berserk rage.The Hour of the Dragon|Robert E. Howard
So saying, Erling gagged the berserk (who looked dreadfully sulky) with a strip of sailcloth.Erling the Bold|R.M. Ballantyne
Berserk was famed for the reckless fury with which he fought, always going into battle without armour.
Compare the Berserk ‘coal-biters’ in the saga of Egil, and the Huron coal-biter in the preceding essay.Cock Lane and Common-Sense|Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for berserk
Word Origin for berserk
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).