Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful, threatening, or obnoxious.
  • transitive verb To live as a parasite in or on.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Hostile; hurtful; mischievous; harassing; troublesome.
  • To attack; molest; harass; haunt or prowl around mischievously or hurtfully; attack parasitically.
  • Synonyms To annoy, harass, torment, plague, vex, molest, overrun.
  • To become confirmed in evil; become habitually vicious.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Mischievous; hurtful; harassing.
  • transitive verb To trouble greatly by numbers or by frequency of presence; to disturb; to annoy; to frequent and molest or harass

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb to be mischievous; to be hurtful; to be harassing.

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

  • verb invade in great numbers
  • verb live on or in a host, as of parasites
  • verb occupy in large numbers or live on a host

Etymologies

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

[Middle English infesten, to distress, from Old French infester, from Latin īnfestāre, from īnfestus, hostile; see gwhedh- in Indo-European roots.]

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Examples

  • Taking your memories as correct -- which they may not be; you could be recalling pieces of delirium -- you should be able to entertain the possibility that you and your friends had the bad luck to meet fools and brutes such as infest every outfit.

    A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows Anderson, Poul, 1926- 1974

  • They feed mostly on very small insects and eggs, such as infest the bark of trees, but will eat almost anything offered them; even meat they will peck from

    Illustrated Science for Boys and Girls Anonymous

  • Here were no cackling old women, or groaning Methodists, such as infest our English churches, and scare one's ears with hoarse coughs accompanied by the naso obligato.

    Dreams Waking Thoughts and Incidents Beckford, William 1891

  • The food of the various Greenlets or Vireos is made up almost entirely of insects, of which a large per cent are caterpillars, such as infest shade trees and the larger shrubs.

    A Book of Natural History Young Folks' Library Volume XIV. Various 1891

  • Some of these false notes proceed simply from the immense growth of every sort of facilitation -- so that people are much more free than of old to come and go and do, to inquire and explore, to pervade and generally "infest"; with a consequent loss, for the fastidious individual, of his blest earlier sense, not infrequent, of having the occasion and the impression, as he used complacently to say, all to himself.

    Italian Hours Henry James 1879

  • When it exists in connexion with an epidemic of fever, the development of malarial poison, or those debilitating influences which are the prolific sources of typhoids, and typhus, such as infest crowded camps, ill-ventilated Hospitals, and the confined Burden Cars in which soldiers are so frequently transported.

    An Epitome of Practical Surgery, for Field and Hospital. 1863

  • This consists, for the most part, of caterpillars, particularly such as infest apple-trees.

    The Western World Picturesque Sketches of Nature and Natural History in North and South America William Henry Giles Kingston 1847

  • At the game of auctions, docks, shy wine-merchants, depend on it there is no winning; and I would as soon think of buying jewellery at an auction in Fleet Street as of purchasing wine from one of your dreadful needy wine-agents such as infest every man's door.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray 1837

  • Here were no cackling old women, or groaning Methodists, such as infest our English churches, and scare one's ears with hoarse coughs accompanied by the naso obligato.

    Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents William Beckford 1801

  • At the game of auctions, docks, shy wine-merchants, depend on it there is no winning; and I would as soon think of buying jewellery at an auction in Fleet Street as of purchasing wine from one of your dreadful needy wine-agents such as infest every man’s door.

    Roundabout Papers 2006

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