Talking with my spanish colleagues one used the word Regañar and explained that it means 'tell someone what they are doing wrong', like telling a child to correct their behavior.

Can anyone think of any English words that translate more literally than browbeat, verbal smackdown, set them straight?

Google translate says quarrel, argue, complain which my colleagues agree is not correct

  • I thought of another: "Dress down"
    – Plato
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 21:05
  • And rebuke, although that's fancy. All these words are fancy. You need a simple word, go for scold.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 21:50
  • 1
    Got some extra context from my colleagues: regañar implies punishing criticism, so nothing so far is a literal translation (because you could admonish/scold/rebuke someone for small offenses)
    – Plato
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


Admonish might be the correct word. See also words like chastise, chide, reprimand, and scold.

  • 1
    "Scold" is how I usually translate "regañar" from Spanish to English. For a slightly softer feel, one could also use simply "correct." As in "Don't scold/correct me" / "No me regañes."
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 16:13

If nothing else that's suggested works, you could also use discipline as a verb:

verb: to train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

You could discipline a child for their bad behavior, for example.

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