Lambaste it

The word “lambaste” in a Page 1 headline caught my eye today (Bill aims to curb illegal influx/Critics lambaste plan as too harsh). It’s a word you don’t hear often, but it makes a great headline word. To “lambaste” means to criticize or denounce harshly. It also means to beat soundly.

I wondered about the derivation, so I looked the word up. Webster’s New World College Dictionary says that “lambaste” comes from two words: “lam,” which comes from an Old Norse word for “to lame,” and means to beat or strike, and “baste,” also from an Old Norse word, which means to beat or to attack with words. So the two words that make up “lambaste” are Viking words! “Lambaste” is a double dose of Viking-like beating. When somebody lambastes you, you really know it!

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.