berserk

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

One of the four Torslunda plates unearthed in Sweden and dated to c. 6th or 7th century C.E., which were used as dies for producing decorative hammered foils.[n 1] This plate is believed to depict, on the right, a berserk or berserker wearing a wolfskin.

The noun is borrowed from Old Norse berserkr (Norse warrior who fights in a frenzy), probably from bjǫrn (bear) + serkr (coat; shirt), referring to the bearskins which the warriors wore.[1][2] Bjǫrn is possibly ultimately derived from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerH- (brown); and serkr from Proto-Indo-European *ser- (to bind, tie together; thread). Alternatively, it has been suggested that the first element of the word is from berr (bare, naked),[2] referring to warriors who went into battle without armour, but this is now thought unlikely.[3] Doublet of berserker.

The adjective is derived from the noun.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

berserk (plural berserks)

  1. (historical) Synonym of berserker (a Norse warrior who fought in a frenzy)

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

Adjective[edit]

berserk (comparative more berserk, superlative most berserk)

  1. Furiously, injuriously, or maniacally violent or out of control.
    After seeing his sister stabbed to death, he went berserk and attacked the killer like a wild animal.
    • 1908 (date written), Rudyard Kipling, “Regulus”, in A Diversity of Creatures, London: Macmillan and Co., [], published 1917, OCLC 16873007, page 264:
      'You went Berserk. I've read all about it in Hypatia.' [] 'You've gone Berserk and pretty soon you'll go to sleep. But you'll probably be liable to fits of it all your life,' Beetle concluded.
  2. (by extension)
    1. Bizarre; weird.
    2. (rare, dialectal, slang) Wildly joyous; ecstatic.
      Synonyms: see Thesaurus:happy
      Antonyms: see Thesaurus:unhappy

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From the collection of the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 berserk | berserker, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 berserk, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ See, for example, Rudolf Simek (1996) Lexikon der germanischen Mythologie, Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner, →ISBN.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Czech[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

berserk m

  1. berserk

Further reading[edit]

  • berserk in Příruční slovník jazyka českého, 1935–1957
  • berserk in Slovník spisovného jazyka českého, 1960–1971, 1989

French[edit]

French Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia fr

Etymology[edit]

From Old Norse berserkr.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

berserk m (plural berserks)

  1. (historical) berserk, berserker (frenzied Norse warrior)

Polish[edit]

Polish Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia pl

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Old Norse berserkr (Icelandic berserkur, Swedish bärsärk), probably from bjǫrn (bear) + serkr (coat).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

berserk m pers

  1. (mythology) berserk

Declension[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • berserk in Wielki słownik języka polskiego, Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN
  • berserk in Polish dictionaries at PWN