tr.v. ad·mon·ished, ad·mon·ish·ing, ad·mon·ish·es
a. To counsel (another) against something to be avoided or warn (that something is dangerous): "[Another competitor in the race] admonished him on the dangers of going out too fast" (Neal Bascomb). "Magazine articles ... admonished that women's financial independence was driving a wedge between husband and wife" (Lillian Faderman).
b. To urge or exhort (someone to do something): "Writers like Emerson and Thoreau ... admonished us to develop ourselves according to nature" (E.D. Hirsch).
c. To remind (someone) of something forgotten or disregarded, as an obligation or a responsibility.
2. To reprove gently but earnestly: "Lincoln pursued his interests in defiance of established norms. Far from being praised, he was consistently admonished" (Joshua Wolf Shenk).
[Middle English amonishen, admonishen, alteration of amonesten, from Old French amonester, admonester, from Vulgar Latin *admonestāre, from Latin admonēre : ad-, ad- + monēre, to warn; see men-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: admonish, reprove, rebuke, reprimand, reproach
These verbs mean to correct or caution critically. Admonish implies the giving of advice or a warning in order to rectify or avoid something: "A gallows erected on an eminence admonished the offenders of the fate that awaited them" (William Hickling Prescott).
Reprove usually suggests a measured disapproval ranging from mild to emphatic: With a stern look, the teacher reproved the child for whispering in class.
Rebuke and reprimand both refer to sharp, often angry criticism from a higher authority: "Some of the most heated criticism ... has come from the Justice Department, which rarely rebukes other agencies in public" (Howard Kurtz). "A [university] committee ... asked its president to reprimand a scientist who tested gene-altered bacteria on trees" (New York Times).
Reproach refers to criticism, sometimes from oneself, arising from a sense of personal disappointment or moral disapproval: "He bitterly regretted his foolishness, and reproached himself for weakness of will" (J.R.R. Tolkien). "She never reproached him for his bullying manners at parties" (Louis Auchincloss).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.