October 15, 2012
berserk (adjective)
\ber-SERK\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: gone out of control : crazy, amok
How do you use it?
When Matt couldn't find his lucky socks for the big game, he went berserk, emptying his drawers, rummaging through laundry, and running all over the house shouting.
Are you a word wiz?

English borrowed "berserk" from another language. What language do you think gave us "berserk"?

Old Norse sagas told of a class of warriors called "berserkrs" who could work themselves up into such a frenzy during battle that they were said to be able to withstand fire or steel. The word "berserkr" is a combination of "ber-," presumed to mean "bear," and "sakr," meaning "shirt." Originally the "bear-shirt" probably referred to a man dressed in a garment representing a bear who entered into a trancelike state in which he magically assumed the powers of a bear. The legend of the frenzied "berserkrs" gave us our word "berserk" to mean "out of control."
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