scourge (n.)

c. 1200, "a whip used for inflicting pain or punishment, a lash used for torture," from Anglo-French scorge, escorge, back-formation from Old French scurge, eschurge "a whip, scourge, thong," from escorgier "to whip," which is from Vulgar Latin *excorrigiare. This is a compound of Latin ex- "out, off," or here perhaps intensive, (see ex-) + corrigia "thong, shoelace," in Late Latin "rein," with sense extension here to "whip." This is probably [Barnhart] from a Gaulish word related to Old Irish cuimrech "fetter," from PIE root *reig- "to bind" (see rig (v.)).

Figurative use is from late 14c., biblical, "a punishment, a punitive infliction;" also "one who or that which scourges or destroys." Scourge of God (Latin flagellum Dei), a title given by later generations to Attila the Hun (406-453 C.E.), is attested from late 14c. (Goddes scourge).

scourge (v.)

c. 1300, scourgen, "to whip, flog" (another, one's self or body, an animal), from Old French escorgier "to whip" and in part from scourge (n.). The figurative meaning "afflict severely, chastise" (often for the sake of punishment or purification) is from late 14c., Biblical. Essentially a doublet of excoriate. Related: Scourged; scourging.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,
And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
[Hebrews xii.6, KJV]

updated on February 21, 2022