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berserk

[ ber-surk, -zurk ]
/ bərˈsɜrk, -ˈzɜrk /
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adjective
violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged: He suddenly went berserk.
noun
(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.

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Origin of berserk

1865–70; <Old Norse berserkr, equivalent to ber- (either *ber-, base of bjǫrnbear2 or berrbare1) + serkrsark, shirt, armor

OTHER WORDS FROM berserk

ber·serk·ly, adverbber·serk·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MORE ABOUT BERSERK

What does berserk mean?

Berserk describes violent, destructive, or deranged behavior.

Berserk frequently describes someone who is acting wild, crazy, or deranged. It is commonly used with forms of the verb go, as in go berserk or went berserk, meaning someone suddenly erupted into a frenzy of angry or violent behavior.

In Norse and Germanic folklore, a berserk (or berserker) is a warrior who worships the Norse god Odin, fighting savagely and without control, possibly from eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. They were said to wear shirts made of bearskin (see “Where does berserk come from?” below) and were often the villains in Norse sagas. Today, this sense is used figuratively to define any person who is prone to acting out angrily, especially without cause.

Example: I told him that his music wasn’t even that great, and he went berserk.

Where does berserk come from?

The first records of the term berserk come from the mid-1800s. It comes from the Icelandic term berserk, which combines björn, meaning “bear,” and serkr, meaning “shirt.” The berserking warriors of legend are typically depicted as wearing bearskin armor.

Berserk is a common theme in violent fiction. The 1987 horror film “Berserker” is about the legend appearing in modern times, and the Japanese manga series Berserk features a character known for his wild, frenzied fighting style. The term berserk is also often used to describe fighters in TV, film, and professional wrestling.

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What are some other forms related to berserk?

  • berserker (noun)
  • berserkly (adverb)
  • berserkness (noun)

What are some synonyms for berserk?

What are some words that often get used in discussing berserk?

How is berserk used in real life?

Berserk is usually used critically or as an insult, almost always commenting on another person’s or an animal’s behavior.

Try using berserk!

Is berserk used correctly in the following sentence?

Wendell went berserk, calmly walking across the field and into the woods.

How to use berserk in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for berserk

berserk
/ (bəˈzɜːk, -ˈsɜːk) /

adjective
frenziedly violent or destructive (esp in the phrase go berserk)
noun
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 for berserk

C19: Icelandic berserkr, from björn bear + serkr shirt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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