[ pur-si-kyoo-shuhn ]
/ ˌpɜr sɪˈkyu ʃən /
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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.
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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

OTHER WORDS FROM persecution

per·se·cu·tion·al, adjectivenon·per·se·cu·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does persecution mean?

Persecution is the act of harassing or oppressing a person or a group of people, especially because of their identity.

Throughout history, people have faced persecution because of their religion, race, ethnicity, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and many other factors.

Example: People have been using the forum to call attention to the ongoing persecution of Muslims.

Where does persecution come from?

The first records of the word persecution in English come from the 1300s. The verb persecute is actually a more recent addition to English than persecution—the first records of it come from the 1400s. It derives from Late Latin persecūtor, which means “pursuer,” from the verb persequī, meaning “to prosecute,” “to pursue closely,” or “to take vengeance upon.”

Persecution often involves ongoing violence and other forms of harassment. Groups are often targeted for persecution when they are in the minority where they live—when they do not hold power. Members of all major religions—including Jews, Muslims, and Christians—have faced persecution during many periods throughout history and still face it today in parts of the world where other religions are more dominant. Racial and ethnic minorities constantly face persecution in the form of discrimination and harsh treatment. Gay people and people with differing gender identities have historically been persecuted and forced to hide their identity. Sometimes, people are persecuted for their political beliefs, especially when they go against the ruling government. Scientists have faced persecution for introducing ideas considered dangerous to those in power. Persecution is not a thing of the past. It happens every day all over the world.

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What are some other forms related to persecution?

  • persecutional (adjective)
  • nonpersecution (noun)

What are some synonyms for persecution?

What are some words that share a root or word element with persecution


What are some words that often get used in discussing persecution?

What are some words persecution may be commonly confused with?

How is persecution used in real life?

Many groups around the world face persecution, and it is a frequent topic of debate.



Try using persecution!

Which of the following words could be considered an antonym (opposite) of persecution?

A. abuse
B. tolerance
C. inequality
D. injustice

How to use persecution in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for persecution

/ (ˌpɜːsɪˈkjuːʃən) /

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