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verb (used with object)
  1. to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly or grievously: to be afflicted with arthritis.
  2. Obsolete.
    1. to overthrow; defeat.
    2. to humble.
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Origin of afflict

1350–1400; Middle English afflicten < Latin afflīctus distressed, past participle of afflīgere to cast down (af- af- + flīg- knock + -tus past participle suffix); replacing Middle English aflight < Middle French aflit < L. See inflict
Related formsaf·flict·ed·ness, nounaf·flict·er, nouno·ver·af·flict, verb (used with object)pre·af·flict, verb (used with object)self-af·flict·ing, adjectiveun·af·flict·ed, adjectiveun·af·flict·ed·ly, adverbun·af·flict·ed·ness, nounun·af·flict·ing, adjective
Can be confusedafflict infect inflict

Synonyms for afflict

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for afflict

annoy, torture, bother, wound, oppress, beset, torment, burden, plague, rack, crucify, smite, pester, pain, distress, agonize, lacerate, grieve, vex, try

Examples from the Web for afflict

Contemporary Examples of afflict

Historical Examples of afflict

  • Certain aspects of enforced Germanization can but afflict all outsiders.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • And, on the other hand, say I had a sense of it, would it not afflict me beyond measure?

  • Day or night it was all one with us; never did our tormentors cease to afflict us.

    In the Days of Drake

    J. S. Fletcher

  • The news which he had heard did afflict Lord George very much.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope

  • But these are torments which afflict the wealthy only; and for this I at least am sincerely thankful.

British Dictionary definitions for afflict


  1. (tr) to cause suffering or unhappiness to; distress greatly
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Derived Formsafflictive, adjective

Word Origin for afflict

C14: from Latin afflictus, past participle of afflīgere to knock against, from flīgere to knock, to strike
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

Word Origin and History for afflict


late 14c., "to cast down," from Old French aflicter, from Latin afflictare "to damage, harass, torment," frequentative of affligere (past participle afflictus) "to dash down, overthrow," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + fligere (past participle flictus) "to strike," from PIE root *bhlig- "to strike" (cf. Greek phlibein "to press, crush," Czech blizna "scar," Welsh blif "catapult"). Transferred meaning of "trouble, distress," is first recorded 1530s. Related: Afflicted; afflicting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper