Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Destructively or frenetically violent: a berserk worker who started smashing all the windows.
  • adj. Mentally or emotionally upset; deranged: berserk with grief.
  • adj. Informal Unrestrained, as with enthusiasm or appetite; wild: berserk over chocolates.
  • n. One that is violent, upset, or unrestrained.
  • n. A berserker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A crazed Norse warrior who fought in a frenzy.
  • adj. Injuriously, maniacally, or furiously violent or out of control.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a class of legendary heroes, who fought frenzied by intoxicating liquors, and naked, regardless of wounds.
  • n. One who fights as if frenzied, like a Berserker.
  • adj. frenzied; crazed; usually in predicate position.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as berserker.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. one of the ancient Norse warriors legendary for working themselves into a frenzy before a battle and fighting with reckless savagery and insane fury
  • adj. frenzied as if possessed by a demon

Etymologies

Back-formation from berserker.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old Norse berserkr (Icelandic berserkur), probably from bjǫrn ("bear") + serkr ("coat"), compare sark. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "You know he's a Scot; men of that country are" - I tried to think of a good synonym for "berserk" - "most fierce where questions of their honor are concerned."

    Dragonfly in Amber

  • Our expression going berserk pays homage to these warriors who, according to Fabing, ingested a psychoactive substance that put them into a state of frenzied rage, reckless courage, and enhanced physical strength.

    The Serpent and the Rainbow

  • When one understands and fully appreciates this inner world of the post traumatic stress victim, it is easier to understand why a veteran can go "berserk" killing his family and then taking his own life.

    Bryant Welch: Fort Hood: A Harbinger of Things to Come?

  • Britney Spears, apparently, as well, one of the big magazines saying that she went "berserk" at a photo shoot.

    CNN Transcript Jul 25, 2007

  • "Bridezillas," by the way, is a WE (ph) TV show all about brides that go kind of berserk while planning their weddings.

    CNN Transcript Jun 13, 2006

  • And what about your "berserk" episode on Bournemouth Station?

    Disordered Minds

  • Her arms came around him and he lifted her up, jammed her back against the bulkhead and, putting his mouth against the side of her neck, rammed into her with a kind of berserk fury.

    Black Blade

  • A US flight attendant who went "berserk" on a passenger and bailed out of his plane has quickly turned into something of a folk hero in the United States and around the world.

    AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

  • Animals are going "berserk" as more and more of their land is taken over by humans and cattle eat their food.

    Yahoo! News: Latest news headlines News Headlines | Top Stories

  • In June 2008 she was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service for kicking and spitting at police officers after going "berserk" on an aircraft.

    icHuddersfield

Comments

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  • Backformation.

    February 18, 2010

  • He neither knows himself nor his outriders, he berserks a fearful dimension and dismounts, miraculously, in bed!
    —Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

    A highly unusual use of 'berserk' as a verb. Note also the (to me somewhat strange) unbalanced placement of 'neither . . . nor'.

    November 21, 2008

  • In the queue for lunch they take the piss, you've got no appetite
    And the rumour is you never go with boys and you are tight
    So they jab you with a fork, you drop the tray and go berserk
    While you're cleaning up the mess the teacher's looking up your skirt.


    (Expectations, by Belle and Sebastian)

    June 14, 2008