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

  • transitive v. Law To initiate civil or criminal court action against.
  • transitive v. Law To seek to obtain or enforce by legal action.
  • transitive v. To pursue (an undertaking, for example) until completion; follow to the very end.
  • transitive v. To chase or pursue (a vessel): "He held a dispatch saying that [they] had prosecuted and probably killed an Echo-class missile submarine” ( Tom Clancy).
  • transitive v. To carry on, engage in, or practice.
  • intransitive v. Law To initiate and conduct legal proceedings.
  • intransitive v. Law To act as prosecutor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To start civil or criminal proceedings against.
  • v. To charge, try.
  • v. To pursue something to the end.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To follow after.
  • intransitive v. To institute and carry on a legal prosecution.
  • transitive v. To follow or pursue with a view to reach, execute, or accomplish; to endeavor to obtain or complete; to carry on; to continue.
  • transitive v. To seek to obtain by legal process.
  • transitive v. To pursue with the intention of punishing; to accuse of some crime or breach of law, or to pursue for redress or punishment, before a legal tribunal; to proceed against judicially.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To follow up; pursue with a view to attain or obtain; continue endeavors to accomplish or complete; pursue with continued purpose; carry on; follow up: as, to prosecute a scheme; to prosecute an undertaking.
  • In law: To seek to obtain by legal process: as, to prosecute a claim in a court of law.
  • To arraign before a court of justice for some crime or wrong; pursue for redress or punishment before a legal tribunal: as, to prosecute a man for trespass or for fraud.
  • To proceed against or pursue by law: said of crimes.
  • Synonyms To follow out, persevere in.—2 . To arraign.
  • To carry on a legal prosecution; act as a prosecutor before a legal tribunal.

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

  • v. carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in
  • v. bring a criminal action against (in a trial)
  • v. conduct a prosecution in a court of law


Middle English prosecuten, from Latin prōsequī, prōsecūt- : prō-, forward; see pro-1 + sequī, to follow; see sekw-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin prōsecūtus, perfect participle of prōsequor. Compare persecute. (Wiktionary)



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  • "We can pass all the laws we think are necessary to protect people, but if no one will prosecute them they are useless."

    July 2, 2015