verb (used with object),per·se·cut·ed,per·se·cut·ing.
to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
to annoy or trouble persistently.
Origin of persecute
1400–50;late Middle English; back formation from persecutour persecutor ≪ Late Latinpersecūtor orig. prosecutor, equivalent to persecū-, variant stem of persequī to prosecute, pursue closely (see per-, sequence) + -tor-tor
Related formsper·se·cut·ing·ly, adverbper·se·cu·tive, adjectiveper·se·cu·tive·ness, nounper·se·cu·tor, nounper·se·cu·to·ry[pur-si-kyoo-tuh-ree, -kyuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]/ˈpɜr sɪˌkyu tə ri, -kyəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivenon·per·se·cut·ing, adjectivenon·per·se·cu·tive, adjectivenon·per·se·cu·to·ry, adjectiveo·ver·per·se·cute, verb (used with object),o·ver·per·se·cut·ed,o·ver·per·se·cut·ing.un·per·se·cut·ed, adjectiveun·per·se·cut·ing, adjectiveun·per·se·cu·tive, adjectiveCan be confusedpersecuteprosecute
mid-15c., "to oppress for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Middle French persécuter "pursue, torment, open legal action" (14c.), from Latin persecutus, past participle of persequi "to pursue" (see persecution). Related: Persecuted; persecuting.