persecute

[pur-si-kyoot]
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.

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 for persecute

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


Examples from the Web for persecutors

Contemporary Examples of persecutors

Historical Examples of persecutors

  • You can no more change your nature, than your persecutors can theirs.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • I have always spoken gently to you and have always sheltered you from your persecutors.

    Debts of Honor

    Maurus Jkai

  • Anyhow, you and I, Jean, have been too much persecuted to turn into persecutors.

    We Two

    Edna Lyall

  • Cornwood leaped from his chair, and began to kick at his two persecutors.

    Up the River

    Oliver Optic

  • The persecutors and their victims have long been dead, and judged.

    The Art of Disappearing

    John Talbot Smith


British Dictionary definitions for persecutors

persecute

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

Word Origin for persecute

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 persecutors

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper