The Meaning of Rebuke: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of rebuke? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word rebuke, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word rebuke mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word rebuke is a verb that means to reprimand or speak severely to someone. The word rebuke is two syllables – re-buke, and the pronunciation of rebuke is rɪbjuːk. This can also be used specifically in the canon law of the Church of England, or English law to refer to a censure on a member of the clergy of the Church of England, which is less severe than a monition and overall the least severe censure. This can be given by a bishop or by an ecclesiastical court. The word rebuke is used throughout the Bible in the Old Testament and the New Testament in Proverbs, Matthew, Isaiah, and more to mean to convict someone for a lack or righteousness. In Hebrew, it is a  translation of ga`ar and yakhach as well as ribh.

If you rebuke someone, you express criticism in a was of stern disapproval. You might rebuke someone for shortcomings, give a mild rebuke as an expression of criticism, a stern rebuke to someone, rebuke a waiter for delivering cold soup, give a lengthy rebuke from unfavorable judgement, give sharp rebukes on someone’s flaws, or disciples might rebuke someone for sin. This expression of disapprobation is common. 

Many different languages also use words that mean rebuke. You may notice that some of these look and sound similar to the word rebuke. These cognates are formed when words have a similar origin or root. This list of translations of rebuke is provided by Word Sense but you could also find translations in a digital edition of a dictionary.

  •  Georgian: საყვედური‎
  •  Irish: spreagadh‎ (masc.), aifirt‎ (fem.)
  •  Esperanto: riproĉo‎
  •  French: reproche‎ (masc.), réprimande‎ (fem.)
  •  Persian: سرکوفت‎ (sarkuft), عتاب‎ (etâb)
  •  Dutch: verwijt‎, berisping‎
  •  Catalan: reprensió‎ (fem.), esbroncada‎ (fem.), esbronc‎ (masc.)
  •  Polish: zbesztanie‎ (neut.)
  •  Spanish: regaño‎ (masc.), reproche‎ (masc.), reprensión‎ (fem.), reprobación‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: soimaus‎, ankara kritiikki‎, haukkuminen‎
  •  Russian: вы́говор‎ (masc.), уко́р‎ (masc.), упрёк‎ (masc.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: achmhasan‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: crítica‎ (fem.), repreensão‎ (fem.), censura‎ (fem.)
  •  Italian: rimbrotto‎ (masc.), reprimenda‎ (fem.), rimprovero‎ (masc.), richiamo‎ (masc.), ammonimento‎ (masc.), disappunto‎ (masc.)
  •  Greek: μομφή‎ (fem.), επίπληξη‎ (fem.), παρατήρηση‎ (fem.)
  •  Czech: výčitka‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Tadel‎ (masc.), Anschiss‎, Rüge‎

What is the origin of the word rebuke?

According to Etymonline, the word rebuke has been used since early c14 Middle English rebuken. This comes from the Anglo-French rebuker, a variant of Old French rebuchier from re and buschier, the French busche and French rebuker/buker, Vulgar Latin buska, Frankish busc, and Proto-Germanic origin, Old Norman, Old North, and West Germanic busk. These are all related to the action to chop wood. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of rebuke?

There is a vast collection of many different words that can be used in place of the word rebuke, which are known as synonyms. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word rebuke is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  chide
  •  lambaste
  •  criticize
  •  flay
  •  reprimanding
  •  have words
  •  denunciation
  •  tell off
  •  admonish
  •  denounce
  •  blast
  •  find fault with
  •  objurgation
  •  call on the carpet
  •  rag
  •  call down
  •  stricture
  •  remonstrate
  •  reprehension
  •  disparage
  •  lecture
  •  discipline
  •  reproach
  •  blame
  •  admonition
  •  reproval
  •  abuse
  •  objurgate
  •  punish
  •  criticism
  •  speak
  •  upbraiding
  •  rating
  •  haul over the coals
  •  dress down
  •  give someone hell
  •  excoriate
  •  chasten
  •  berating
  •  chew out
  •  jaw
  •  reprimands
  •  tongue-lashing
  •  correction
  •  deprecate
  •  ragging
  •  reprove
  •  carpet
  •  trounce
  •  dressing down
  •  rate
  •  slam
  •  berate
  •  give someone a rocket
  •  reproof
  •  castigate
  •  condemnation
  •  lecturing
  •  reprimand
  •  disapproval
  •  chastisement
  •  reprimanded
  •  chiding
  •  knock
  •  arraign
  •  earful
  •  condemn
  •  take to task
  •  scold
  •  rebuff
  •  wigging
  •  snub
  •  attack
  •  rap
  •  tick off
  •  castigation
  •  admonishment
  •  bring to book
  •  chew up
  •  bawl out
  •  reprehend
  •  telling-off
  •  rake over the coals
  •  lambast
  •  berated
  •  scolding
  •  chastise
  •  chastised
  •  lesson
  •  vituperate
  •  wig
  •  talking-to
  •  dressing-down
  •  revile
  •  remonstrance
  •  penalize
  •  censure
  •  jump on
  •  scolded
  •  rap over the knuckles
  •  upbraid

There are also numerous different words that are the opposite of the word rebuke, which are called antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word rebuke is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  ballyhoo
  •  big something up
  •  applaud
  •  panegyrize
  •  hail
  •  back
  •  approval
  •  compliment
  •  countenance
  •  appreciate
  •  rave about
  •  advocate
  •  praise to the skies
  •  flattery
  •  big someone up
  •  eulogize
  •  reward
  •  approbation
  •  gratitude
  •  agree with
  •  celebrate
  •  cheer
  •  cry someone up
  •  citation
  •  wax lyrical about
  •  sanction
  •  congratulate
  •  congrats
  •  throw bouquets at
  •  eulogy
  •  commend
  •  praise
  •  acclaim
  •  heap praise on
  •  flatter
  •  pay tribute to
  •  admire
  •  approve
  •  speak highly of
  •  congratulations
  •  endorsement
  •  laud
  •  be in favour of
  •  sing the praises of
  •  commendation
  •  extol
  •  tribute
  •  support
  •  go into raptures about
  •  be pleased with

How can the word rebuke be used in a sentence?

There are many ways that the word rebuke can be used in a sentence in the English language. Using new words in a sentence is a great way to incorporate new lingo into your vocabulary. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes that test your knowledge of the definitions of different English words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are several different examples of ways in which the word rebuke can be used in the English language to help get your started with using this word. 

Arah rebuked the Prime Minister for doing nothing about the criis. 

Neil rebuked Princeton University for mistakenly sending him an invitation to the school. 

I rebuked the man for hit and running the stranger’s car.

Overall, the word rebuke means passing unfavorable judgment. This word is a verb.


  1. rebuke: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Rebuke synonyms – 1 299 Words and Phrases for Rebuke | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Rebuke antonyms – 688 Opposites of Rebuke | Power Thesaurus 
  4. rebuke | Origin and meaning of rebuke | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Rebuke definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary