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Word of the Day
Friday, October 28, 2011

Definitions for berserk

  1. Violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged.
  2. Scandinavian legend. An ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms.

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Citations for berserk
I was shaking like a washing machine gone berserk. Francisco Goldman, The Long Night of White Chickens
She had had lots of power, in her own way, but she had no more motherly instinct than a berserk rhino. Gregory Maguire, Son of a Witch
Origin of berserk
1865-1870
The English usage of berserk lies in an Old Norse story introduced by Sir Walter Scott in 1822. It is from the Old Norse word berserkr (n.) meaning a raging warrior of superhuman strength. Linguistically, it probably from stems from ber- meaning bear and serkr meaning shirt, thus literally "a warrior clothed in bearskin."