Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
  • transitive v. To annoy persistently; bother.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death for one's race, sexual identity, adherence to a particular religious creed, or mode of worship.
  • v. To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death, for adherence to a particular religious creed or mode of worship.
  • transitive v. To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 1. To pursue; follow close after.
  • To pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment; harass or afflict with repeated acts of cruelty or annoyance; injure or afflict persistently; specifically, to afflict, harass, or punish on account of opinions, as for adherence to a particular creed or system of religious principles, or to a mode of worship.
  • In a weakened sense, to harass or pursue with persistent attentions, solicitations, or other importunities; vex or annoy.

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

  • v. cause to suffer

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French persecuter, back-formation from persecuteur, persecutor, from Late Latin persecūtor, from persecūtus, past participle of persequī, to persecute, from Latin, to pursue : per-, per- + sequī, to follow; see sekw-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French persécuter, from Latin persequor ("follow up, pursue"), from per- (“through”) +‎ sequor (“follow”) (English sequel). Compare prosecute. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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