I'm and ESL teacher and the word reprimand came up in the lesson. I asked the student to define "reprimand" and he said it means to criticise someone. I don't feel that the words are synonymous. For the life of me, I cannot find any information on this. Can someone assist?

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    Where did you look for information? What did a dictionary or two tell you? Please show your research so the community doesn't repeat it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 16, 2019 at 19:48
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    No, they are not synonymous. To reprimand someone is to give them a 'telling-off' - to speak to them sternly about something they have done wrong. To criticise is to draw attention to a fault or mistake. It could be done angrily, or it could be done kindly and meant to help. Aug 16, 2019 at 19:54
  • A reprimand comes from a person of authority, power, or responsibility. A teacher may reprimand a student, but a student cannot really reprimand a teacher. To criticize/criticise is more democratic. Everybody can criticize anyone or anything they want.
    – KarlG
    Aug 16, 2019 at 21:52
  • Enter reprimand in Google. You will get a list of sources; click on any link that offers a definition of reprimand. For example, you will find this Merriam-Webster link that defines reprimand. Now do the same for criticize. If the difference between the two is still unclear, edit your question to explain what you do not understand. Or, do you not have Google?
    – ab2
    Aug 17, 2019 at 0:05
  • @ab2 obviously I did do research. A dictionary is my first point of reference in a matter like this. There is no need to be patronising. If you don't want to assist, don't answer. Aug 17, 2019 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


'Reprimand' implies a certain degree of authority. Only a person with authority over someone else may reprimand them. A reprimand usually comes with some kind of consequence, although it may be a 'warning'.

On the other hand anyone may criticize someone else.

So a boss may reprimand subordinate, but a subordinate (or an equal) may only criticize his boss.

  • Thank you so much for the explanation. I appreciate the time and effort you went to. Aug 17, 2019 at 12:56
  • Downvote on an already accepted answer? Maybe an explanation is called for. Aug 21, 2019 at 12:37

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