• synonyms


  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


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

Examples from the Web for scourger

Historical Examples

  • There shall be given for a remedy the city of Claudius, which shall interpose the nurse of the scourger.

    Old English Chronicles


  • The convict “scourger” was one of the regular officials attached to every chain gang.

  • The sentence of the court was carried out by a scourger, sometimes called flagellator, or flogger.

    The Book of the Bush

    George Dunderdale

  • Being transported to this country, he was employed as a scourger, and thus trained to cruelty, entered the bush.

  • If the scourger won't do his duty, tie him up, and give him five-and-twenty for himself.

British Dictionary definitions for scourger


  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

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 scourger



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