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[pes-ter] /ˈpɛs tər/
verb (used with object)
to bother persistently with petty annoyances; trouble:
Don't pester me with your trivial problems.
Obsolete. to overcrowd.
Origin of pester
1530-40; perhaps aphetic variant of empester, impester to tangle, encumber (though pester is found earlier than these 2 words) < Middle French empestrer to hobble, entangle < Vulgar Latin *impāstōriāre to hobble, equivalent to im- im-1 + pāstōri(a) a hobble, noun use of Latin pāstōrius of a herdsman or shepherd + -āre infinitive suffix (see pastor); aphetic form apparently reinforced by pest (cf. -er6)
Related forms
pesterer, noun
pesteringly, adverb
pestersome, adjective
unpestered, adjective
1. annoy, vex, tease, disturb; irritate, provoke, plague; badger, harry, hector.
1. delight, entertain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pestering
Historical Examples
  • There never was such a pestering bankrupt as that since the world began, I do believe!

  • I will be here to see you, if you still persist in pestering me.

    The Golden Face William Le Queux
  • Oh, yes, I remember; Randy threw it at black Wally the other day when he was pestering her.

    Talbot's Angles Amy E. Blanchard
  • What do you mean by pestering Marcoline at the theatre yesterday?

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • Why, he has been pestering all the towns of Russia with his gout!

    Uncle Vanya Anton Checkov
  • This Adonis Im talking about is pestering Clara with his attentions.

  • She must be continually at people's heels, pestering them in all ways.

    A Chambermaid's Diary Octave Mirbeau
  • She was pestering him unmercifully for what he already owed her.

    In Pawn Ellis Parker Butler
  • Then, before long, he fell to pestering the old man with questions about the matter.

    Twilight Land Howard Pyle
  • Half the beggars of London had winded the phrase and were pestering him at his back gate.

    Iconoclasts James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for pestering


(transitive) to annoy or nag continually
Derived Forms
pesterer, noun
pesteringly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Old French empestrer to hobble (a horse), from Vulgar Latin impāstōriāre (unattested) to use a hobble, from pāstōria (unattested) a hobble, from Latin pāstōrius relating to a herdsman, from pastor herdsman
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 pestering



1520s, "to clog, entangle, encumber," probably a shortening of Middle French empestrer "place in an embarrassing situation" (Modern French empêtrer, Walloon epasturer), from Vulgar Latin *impastoriare "to hobble" (an animal), from Latin im- "in" + Medieval Latin pastoria (chorda) "(rope) to hobble an animal," from Latin pastoria, fem. of pastorius "of a herdsman," from pastor "herdsman" (see pastor (n.)). Sense of "annoy, trouble" (1560s) is from influence of pest. Related: Pestered; pestering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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