Definition of rebuke in English:



  • Express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behaviour or actions.

    ‘she had rebuked him for drinking too much’
    ‘the judge publicly rebuked the jury’
    • ‘So when I went up to them at the counter where the pair were perched on high stools I was rebuked for daring to open my mouth.’
    • ‘He rebuked the people running the review and said he expected local NHS bosses to ‘engage with local communities’.’
    • ‘On another occasion a pair of rabbis turned up and rebuked me for placing Jewish children in Christian foster homes.’
    • ‘Britain's largest charity has rebuked Prince Charles for refusing to protect an endangered species of bird at the Balmoral estate.’
    • ‘In point of fact, he was rebuked for his support of bringing about a volunteer force, at least considering it.’
    • ‘He immediately went into the circling routine, feeling the material of my jacket and after a lot of tut tutting rebuked me for my cheap shoes which didn't match my suit.’
    • ‘For him it was always the issues that were important, but he was definitely rebuking his old friend, even though he did not name him.’
    • ‘When he was incredibly late at the beginning, the judge rebuked him on that day about being late.’
    • ‘As she continued to live a western lifestyle, he rebuked her for not being a good Muslim.’
    • ‘Instead, it merely rebuked him for his refusal to co-operate, even as a former MP.’
    • ‘Other trade union leaders were also rebuked and reprimanded, with some receiving kicks and punches.’
    • ‘But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.’
    • ‘He did and the judge rebuked him for it, but the point got made.’
    • ‘Before rebuking someone, ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’’
    • ‘But the king-maker promptly rebuked him, saying that he didn't want his wife to lose her job.’
    • ‘This criminal sensed His royalty and rebuked his fellow criminal.’
    • ‘He would stare at her, apologising for leaving her on the landing that day, yet rebuking her for her behaviour.’
    • ‘He was criticized, he was rebuked by others in the Pentagon at the time.’
    • ‘As though rebuking her, she felt the sharp prick of a needle on her arm.’
    • ‘I haven't read the article but have read the outrageous reports rebuking the author.’
    reprimand, reproach, scold, admonish, reprove, remonstrate with, chastise, chide, upbraid, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, criticize, censure
    tell off, give someone a talking-to, give someone a telling-off, dress down, give someone a dressing-down, give someone an earful, give someone a roasting, give someone a rocket, rap, rap over the knuckles, slap someone's wrist, let someone have it, bawl out, give someone hell, come down on, blow up, pitch into, lay into, lace into, give someone a caning, slap down, blast, rag, keelhaul
    tick off, have a go at, carpet, monster, give someone a mouthful, tear someone off a strip, give someone what for, give someone a rollicking, wig, give someone a wigging, give someone a row, row
    chew out, ream out
    bollock, give someone a bollocking
    chew someone's ass, ream someone's ass
    call down, rate, give someone a rating, trim
    reprehend, objurgate
    View synonyms


  • An expression of sharp disapproval or criticism.

    ‘he hadn't meant it as a rebuke, but Neil flinched’
    • ‘And it delivered not one but two stern rebukes to states over what justices considered unfair procedures for sentencing people to death.’
    • ‘Indeed the Academy issued a rare rebuke of the studio for its campaign.’
    • ‘His comments brought a swift rebuke from both state and federal National Party MPs.’
    • ‘Ahern has delivered several sharp rebukes to his parliamentary party recently.’
    • ‘I opened my mouth for a sharp rebuke but just then the waitress appeared, bringing our plates of burgers and fries.’
    • ‘He had more expected a sharp rebuke for sleeping late, maybe even a none-too-gentle reminder in the form of a hand to his backside.’
    • ‘I tried to explain my doubtless feeble joke, but my critic was having none of it, delivering her rebuke and, having had her stern say, ringing off.’
    • ‘His declaration is the first time a sitting Conservative MP has advocated a complete break with the EU and is sure to provoke a sharp rebuke from party whips.’
    • ‘This rebuke flew in the face of Hamilton's express words in his Report.’
    • ‘Chelsea flushes at the mild rebuke, though she knows it's only the truth.’
    • ‘I should have been sat in front of the television making mental notes and issuing sharp rebukes to his paper thin justifications for war.’
    • ‘He also delivered a sharp rebuke to those who argued against the day on profit grounds.’
    • ‘Under the guise of political virtue, it scolds, berates, rebukes, criticizes, and has a high old time doing it.’
    • ‘Bear in mind, then, that expressions of regret over the defilement of sacred images are likely to attract rebukes from certain ‘modern’ and ‘spiritual’ types of Westerner.’
    • ‘The Press Council delivered one of its strongest rebukes in its 30 year history.’
    • ‘The 59-year-old was at the centre of all the wrong publicity six years ago, when his comments about Irish women drew strong rebukes and criticism.’
    • ‘Now capitalism is receiving severe rebukes, with its critics given powerful evidence that they are right in seeing it as a system that works for insiders and their cronies.’
    • ‘I've delivered her a stern rebuke and promised I'll be back to conduct regular inspections.’
    • ‘God will often use men to offer a verbal rebuke through prophecy or admonishment before disciplining us.’
    reprimand, reproach, reproof, scolding, admonishment, admonition, reproval, remonstration, lecture, upbraiding, castigation, lambasting, criticism, censure
    telling-off, rap, rap over the knuckles, dressing-down, earful, roasting, bawling-out, caning, blast, row
    ticking off, carpeting, rollicking, wigging
    View synonyms


Middle English (originally in the sense ‘force back, repress’): from Anglo-Norman French and Old Northern French rebuker, from re- back, down + bukier to beat (originally cut down wood, from Old French busche log).