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  1. a whip or lash, especially for the infliction of punishment or torture.
  2. a person or thing that applies or administers punishment or severe criticism.
  3. a cause of affliction or calamity: Disease and famine are scourges of humanity.
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verb (used with object), scourged, scourg·ing.
  1. to whip with a scourge; lash.
  2. to punish, chastise, or criticize severely.
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Origin of scourge

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French escorge, derivative of escorgier to whip < Vulgar Latin *excorrigiāre, derivative of Latin corrigia thong, whip (see ex-1); (v.) Middle English < Old French escorgier
Related formsscourg·er, nounscourg·ing·ly, adverbself-scourg·ing, adjectiveun·scourged, adjectiveun·scourg·ing, adjective

Synonyms for scourge

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for scourge

terror, curse, pest, penalty, misfortune, pestilence, infliction, visitation, correction, bane, affliction, punishment, cane, afflict, scathe, excoriate, torment, castigate, tan, whip

Examples from the Web for scourge

Contemporary Examples of scourge

Historical Examples of scourge

  • And there is much to be done and to be said, but take my word for it: This scourge will stop.

  • The day after I reached the harbour, I was ordered on board the Scourge.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • A company came on board the Scourge, and they filled us chock-a-block.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The Scourge had gone down on the night of the 7th, or the morning of the 8th, I never knew which.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • I never saw a studding-sail in any of the schooners, the Scourge excepted.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for scourge


  1. a person who harasses, punishes, or causes destruction
  2. a means of inflicting punishment or suffering
  3. a whip used for inflicting punishment or torture
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verb (tr)
  1. to whip; flog
  2. to punish severely
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Derived Formsscourger, noun

Word Origin for scourge

C13: from Anglo-French escorge, from Old French escorgier (unattested) to lash, from es- ex- 1 + Latin corrigia whip
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

Word Origin and History for scourge


c.1200, "a whip, lash," from Anglo-French escorge, back-formation from Old French escorgier "to whip," from Vulgar Latin *excorrigiare, from Latin ex- "out, off" (see ex-) + corrigia "thong, shoelace," in this case "whip," probably from a Gaulish word related to Old Irish cuimrech "fetter," from PIE root *reig- "to bind" (see rig (v.)). Figurative use from late 14c. Scourge of God, title given by later generations to Attila the Hun (406-453 C.E.), is attested from late 14c., from Latin flagellum Dei.

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c.1300, "to whip," from Old French escorgier and from scourge (n.). Figurative meaning "to afflict" (often for the sake of punishment or purification) is from late 14c. Related: Scourged; scourging.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper