[pur-si-kyoo-shuh n]


the act of persecuting.
the state of being persecuted.
a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group: the persecutions of Christians by the Romans.

Origin of persecution

1300–50; Middle English persecucio(u)n < Late Latin persecūtiōn- (stem of persecūtiō), Latin: prosecution, equivalent to persecūt(us) past participle of persequī (see persecute) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsper·se·cu·tion·al, adjectivenon·per·se·cu·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for persecution

Contemporary Examples of persecution

Historical Examples of persecution

  • I may have been mistaken with regard to the cause of my persecution by the Wilsons, but I think not.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • And then at once arises the danger into which morality has led us: the danger of persecution.

  • But be that as it may, they joined with Lip-lip in the persecution.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Grief and persecution had in a former instance inspired her with the love of solitude.


    William Godwin

  • There was a cry of "Neo-paganism," and various attempts at persecution.

British Dictionary definitions for persecution



the act of persecuting or the state of being persecuted
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 persecution

mid-14c., "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Old French persecucion "persecution, damage, affliction, suffering" (12c.) and directly from Latin persecutionem (nominative persecutio), noun of action from past participle stem of persequi "follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per- "through" (see per) + sequi "follow" (see sequel). Psychological persecution complex is recorded from 1961; earlier persecution mania (1892).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper