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persecute

[pur-si-kyoot]
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verb (used with object), per·se·cut·ed, per·se·cut·ing.
  1. to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
  2. to annoy or trouble persistently.
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Origin of persecute

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 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, adjective
Can be confusedpersecute prosecute

Synonyms

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1. afflict, torture, torment. 2. worry, badger, vex, bother, pester.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for persecute

persecute

verb (tr)
  1. to oppress, harass, or maltreat, esp because of race, religion, etc
  2. to bother persistently
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Derived Formspersecutive, adjectivepersecutor, 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

Word Origin and History for persecute

v.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper