Excoriating meaning: what is the definition of the word, Sue Gray report explained - will Boris Johnson resign

Left scratching your head after hearing the word ‘excoriating’ for the first time?

Boris Johnson could be forced to resign after the Sue Gray review into claims of Covid rule breaches in the Government is published, according to a report.

The Times, citing an official it described as being familiar with the contents of the complete report, said Gray’s full findings were even more personally critical of the Prime Minister and could end his premiership.

According to the paper, the official said: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister.”

As is often the case when a government insider makes a statement, some unusual language has been used, and the word “excoriating” has been catching some people off guard.

So what exactly does it mean? And where does it come from?

Here is everything you need to know.

What does excoriating mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “excoriating” as: “to write or say that a play, book, political action, etc. is very bad.”

As an example of the word’s usage, it says: “his latest novel received excoriating reviews.”

Merriam-Webster defines the word as “to censure scathingly”.

In another, separate context, the word is also used in relation to damaged skin. For instance, excoriation disorder is a disorder where you cannot stop picking at your skin.

Boris Johnson at a press conference in New Delhi, India on 22 April 2022 (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Boris Johnson at a press conference in New Delhi, India on 22 April 2022 (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson at a press conference in New Delhi, India on 22 April 2022 (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Most people pick at their skin from time to time, but excoriation can cause cuts, bleeding or bruising.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘excoriate’ first appeared in English in the 15th century.

It comes from ‘excoriatus,’ the past participle of the Latin verb ‘excoriare’, meaning "to strip off the hide."

‘Excoriare’ was itself formed from a pairing of the Latin prefix ‘ex-’, meaning "out," and ‘corium’, meaning "skin" or "hide" or "leather."

When will the full report be published?

Gray, a senior civil servant, was forced to delay the publication of her investigation into alleged parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during England’s coronavirus lockdowns due to the Metropolitan Police commencing their own inquiry.

In an interim report published in January, the Cabinet Office official said there had been “failures of leadership and judgement” in No 10 over the so-called partygate saga.

The Gray Report will be released when the criminal investigation by the Met Police is over.

As for when that might be, there is currently no indication of when the Met Police will have reached the end of their investigations.

Will Johnson resign?

Downing Street is said to be braced for Johnson to receive a second fixed-penalty notice (FPN) after police reportedly began issuing fines relating to a “bring your own bottle” event in the No 10 garden on 20 May 2020.

The PM reportedly attended half of the 12 gatherings currently being investigated by police.

On Sunday (24 April), Cabinet ministers offered a defence of the Prime Minister, with Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden suggesting it was “quite a speculation” to predict Johnson could be hit with more FPNs.

Johnson’s critics have begun working in a coordinated fashion and are “holding back” to wait for the local election results or for further FPNs to be issued, according to the i.

Dowden has admitted that the local council elections will be “challenging”, and a bad performance is likely to increase the number of Tory MPs formally calling for a change in leadership.