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[pur-si-kyoot] /ˈpɜr sɪˌkyut/
verb (used with object), persecuted, persecuting.
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
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; back formation from persecutour persecutor ≪ Late Latin persecūtor orig. prosecutor, equivalent to persecū-, variant stem of persequī to prosecute, pursue closely (see per-, sequence) + -tor -tor
Related forms
persecutingly, adverb
persecutive, adjective
persecutiveness, noun
persecutor, noun
[pur-si-kyoo-tuh-ree, -kyuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈpɜr sɪˌkyu tə ri, -kyəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
nonpersecuting, adjective
nonpersecutive, adjective
nonpersecutory, adjective
overpersecute, verb (used with object), overpersecuted, overpersecuting.
unpersecuted, adjective
unpersecuting, adjective
unpersecutive, adjective
Can be confused
persecute, prosecute.
1. afflict, torture, torment. 2. worry, badger, vex, bother, pester. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for persecutor
Contemporary Examples
  • Their report is consistent with those of other twin survivors who said Mengele was their protector as much as their persecutor.

Historical Examples
  • Her persecutor stifled an oath, and sprung after and arrested her.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Between them they hope to bring the persecutor of the faithful on his knees.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Aunt Lucy was obliged to obey, at least while her persecutor was in the room.

    Paul Prescott's Charge Horatio Alger
  • In him we may behold the difference between the end of a martyr and a persecutor.

  • Quin looked at her as a Christian martyr might have looked at his persecutor.

    Quin Alice Hegan Rice
  • Henry was a reformer,—he could not be persuaded to become a persecutor.

    Henry of Monmouth, Volume 2 J. Endell Tyler
  • At the end of a week, Kathinka received a second letter from her persecutor.

    Rabbi and Priest

    Milton Goldsmith
  • She gave a faint scream and drew back with a shudder at the sight of their persecutor.

    White Lies Charles Reade
  • Probably this was the source of Paul's zeal in the work of the persecutor.

British Dictionary definitions for persecutor


verb (transitive)
to oppress, harass, or maltreat, esp because of race, religion, etc
to bother persistently
Derived Forms
persecutive, adjective
persecutor, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French persecuter, back formation from persecuteur, from Late Latin persecūtor pursuer, from persequī to take vengeance upon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for persecutor

early 15c., from Anglo-French persecutour, Old French persecutor "persecutor, enemy" (12c., Modern French persécuteur), from Latin persecutor, agent noun from persequi (see persecution).



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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