Printable Version
Pronunciation: êp-brayd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To chide, censure, mildly rebuke, reproach, or admonish.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a rarity: an English word that has always been an English word. We therefore have all the predictable English derivations: upbraider, the one who upbraids, and upbraidee, the one who is upbraided. The abstract noun and adjective is upbraiding, and the adjective sense of this word may be pushed to an adverb sense by adding -ly: upbraidingly. The strength of an upbraiding lies somewhere between a chiding and a rebuke.

In Play: English-speaking children should know this word for occasions like this: "If I get mud on my pants I'll only get a mild upbraiding and have to change my pants." No long-term grounding. We should begin to make distinctions that verbally abuse does allow us: "My wife upbraids me every time I light up my pipe."

Word History: The origin of upbraid is Old English upbregdan, composed of up "up" + bregdan "to braid, twist, turn; brandish". The meaning of this word somehow changed to "bring forth for censure" before the G dropped out. Middle Swedish obbrygdha "scold" from op "up" + brygdha "move quickly" behaved the same way. An archaic word based on this stem, abraid "wrench suddenly, to draw (a sword)", has maintained much of the original meaning. This latter word should not be confused with the modern word abrade "to wear down by rubbing". (Lest we earn an upbraiding from Patricia Waddy, let us now thank her for recommending today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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