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Etymology 1[edit]

Inherited from Middle English scourge, from Anglo-Norman scorge, escorge, escourge, escurge, from Anglo-Norman escorger (to whip), from Vulgar Latin *excorrigiō, from Latin ex- (thoroughly) + corrigia (thong, whip).


scourge (plural scourges)

  1. A source of persistent trouble such as pestilence that causes pain and suffering or widespread destruction.
    Graffiti is the scourge of building owners everywhere.
    • 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter II, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. [], volume II, London: [] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, →OCLC, page 30:
      On you it rests, whether I quit for ever the neighbourhood of man, and lead a harmless life, or become the scourge of your fellow-creatures, and the author of your own speedy ruin.
  2. A means to inflict such pain or destruction.
    • c. 1593 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Richard the Third: []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iv]:
      What scourge for perjury / Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?
    • 2013 June 1, “Towards the end of poverty”, in The Economist[1], volume 407, number 8838, page 11:
      America’s poverty line is $63 a day for a family of four. In the richer parts of the emerging world $4 a day is the poverty barrier. But poverty’s scourge is fiercest below $1.25 ([…]): people below that level live lives that are poor, nasty, brutish and short.
    1. A whip, often of leather and often multi-tailed.
      He flogged him with a scourge.

Etymology 2[edit]

Inherited from Middle English scourgen, from the noun (see above).


scourge (third-person singular simple present scourges, present participle scourging, simple past and past participle scourged)

  1. To strike with a scourge; to flog.
    • 1854, Henry David Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts:
      If they vote, they do not send men to Congress on errands of humanity; but while their brothers and sisters are being scourged and hung for loving liberty, while—I might here insert all that slavery implies and is,—it is the mismanagement of wood and iron and stone and gold which concerns them.

See also[edit]