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Word of the Day: Admonish

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Good evening and welcome to Word of the Day! A journey through the English vocabulary and the words that piqued my interest, in WotD we'll be learning a new word for each working day of the week, except for holidays, unless there's a holiday special...


Today's word is:


|ədˈmäni sh |

verb [ trans. ]

  • warn or reprimand someone firmly : she admonished me for appearing at breakfast unshaven | [ trans. ] "You mustn't say that, Shiona," Ruth admonished her.
  • [ trans. ] advise or urge (someone) earnestly : she admonished him to drink no more than one glass of wine.
  • archaic warn (someone) of something to be avoided : he admonished the people against the evil of such practices.

ORIGIN: Middle English amonest [urge, exhort,] from Old French amonester, based on Latin admonere 'urge by warning.' In late Middle English , the final t of amonest was taken to indicate the past tense, and its present tense admonesse changed on the pattern of verbs such as abolish; the prefix a- became ad- in the 16th cent. by association with the Latin form.


All of these verbs mean to criticize or express disapproval, but which one you use depends on how upset you are.


If you want to go easy on someone, you can admonish or reproach, both of which indicate mild and sometimes kindly disapproval. To admonish is to warn or counsel someone, usually because a duty has been forgotten or might be forgotten in the future (: admonish her about leaving the key in the lock), while reproach also suggests mild criticism aimed at correcting a fault or pattern of misbehavior (: he was reproved for his lack of attention in class).

If you want to express your disapproval formally or in public, use censure or reprimand. You can censure someone either directly or indirectly (: the judge censured the lawyer for violating courtroom procedures; a newspaper article that censured "deadbeat dads"), while reprimand suggests a direct confrontation (: reprimanded by his parole officer for leaving town without reporting his whereabouts).


If you're irritated enough to want to express your disapproval quite harshly and at some length, you can scold (: to scold a child for jaywalking).

Rebuke is the harshest word of this group, meaning to criticize sharply or sternly, often in the midst of some action (: rebuke a carpenter for walking across an icy roof).


For more info on the origin of the header image click here.

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