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.

verb (used with object), scourged, scourg·ing.

  1. to whip with a scourge; lash.
  2. to punish, chastise, or criticize severely.


  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

verb (tr)

  1. to whip; flog
  2. to punish severely

n.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. v.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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