berserk

\ \ [19] Sir Walter Scott appears to be responsible for introducing this word to the English language. He mentions it in a footnote to his novel The pirate 1822, adopting it (in the form berserkar) from the Icelandic berserkrfrenzied Norse warrior’. Its etymology is not altogether clear. Its second syllable represents serkrcoat, shirt’ (a word English used to have, as sark: cutty sark meant ‘short shirt’), but the first is disputed. Scott took it to mean ‘bare’ (which would have been Icelandic berr), and in fact the anglicized form baresark was quite commonly used in the mid 19th century; the plausible-sounding notion underlying this is that the original berserkr was so called because in his battle-crazed frenzy he tore off his armour and fought in his shirt-sleeves – ‘bare-shirted’.
\ \ However, 20th-century etymologists have tended to prefer the theory that ber- is ‘bear’, representing Icelandic bern-, a by-form of bjornbear’. The concept of warriors dressing themselves in animals’ skins is an ancient one, found in many mythologies.
\ \ The modern use of the word as an adjective, meaning ‘in a violent frenzy’, appears to date from the third quarter of the 19th century.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Berserk — Originaltitel ベルセルク Transkription Beruseruku …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • berserk — (adj.) 1844, from berserk (n.) Norse warrior, by 1835, an alternative form of BERSERKER (Cf. berserker) (1822), a word which was introduced by Sir Walter Scott, from O.N. berserkr (n.) raging warrior of superhuman strength; probably from *ber… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Berserk — or berzerk can refer to: * A berserker, a fierce warrior, often associated with Norsemen * Berserk (manga), a Japanese manga and, later, anime series * A status effect in a variety of role playing games, which generally causes the affected… …   Wikipedia

  • Berserk — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Berserk puede referirse a: Berserk, serie de manga y anime. Berserk, la banda de thrash metal, originaria de El Salvador. Véase también: Berserker Obtenido de Berserk Categoría: Wikipedia:Desambiguación …   Wikipedia Español

  • berserk — meaning ‘wild, frenzied’, is now mostly confined to the expression to go berserk. It is in origin a Norse word for a warrior who fought with wild fury. Berserk may be pronounced either bǝ zerk or bǝ serk, although the first is now more common …   Modern English usage

  • Berserk — Ber*serk (b[ e]r*s[ e]rk ; b[ e]r*z[ e]rk ; b[ e]r s[ e]rk) a. [See {berserk}, n.] frenzied; crazed; usually in predicate position. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Berserk — Ber serk, Berserker Ber serk*er, n. [Icel. berserkr.] 1. (Scand. Myth.) One of a class of legendary heroes, who fought frenzied by intoxicating liquors, and naked, regardless of wounds. Longfellow. [1913 Webster] 2. One who fights as if frenzied …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • berserk — index frenetic Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • berserk — [adj] crazed crazy, demented, deranged, insane, mad, maniacal, manic, violent; concept 403 …   New thesaurus

  • berserk — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ out of control; wild and frenzied. ► NOUN (also berserker) ▪ an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzy. ORIGIN Old Norse, probably from bjorn bear + serkr coat , or possibly from berr bare (i.e. without armour) …   English terms dictionary

  • berserk — [bər sʉrk′, bərzʉrk′; bəsʉrk′] n. [see BERSERKER] a berserker adj., adv. in or into a state of violent or destructive rage or frenzy …   English World dictionary

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