Verb > Excoriate

Verb – Excoriate

This word has Latin roots that mean “to strip off the hide or skin.”

To excoriate people and things literally is to strip off their skin. And to excoriate people and things figuratively is to talk so harshly about how bad they are that it’s as if you’re stripping off their skin.

ex CORE ee ate

Part of speech:
Verb, the transitive kind: “the media excoriated the actor.”

Other forms:
excoriated, excoriating, excoriation, excoriatingly

How to use it:
Save this extremely harsh word for the absolute worst, absolute most vicious verbal reprimands, whether they are deserved or not.

Say that one person or group excoriates another, usually for some bad deed (or for failing to do something good): “they excoriated him for his cruelty,” “they excoriated the local government for ignoring its neediest citizens.”

Although it’s usually people who get excoriated, you can also excoriate motives, decisions, actions, statements, documents, and so on.

A handy adjective is “excoriating,” meaning “wielding the power to excoriate.” Talk about excoriating comments, attacks, criticism, judgments, humor, posts, articles, facial expressions, etc.

“The most powerful moment in Nassar’s court proceedings came in the form of his victims’ blistering confrontation of the man who had gotten away with so much for so long. Woman after woman rose in a Michigan courtroom to excoriate the disgraced physician.”
— Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 11 August 2019

“(Walt Whitman) was rejected by publishers and excoriated by critics (one called him ‘trashy, profane and obscene’) but that didn’t stop him from pressing on.”
— Kera Bolonik, Poetry Foundation, 6 August 2013