[ pros-i-kyoot ]
See synonyms for: prosecuteprosecutes on

verb (used with object),pros·e·cut·ed, pros·e·cut·ing.
  1. Law.

    • to institute legal proceedings against (a person).

    • to seek to enforce or obtain by legal process.

    • to conduct criminal proceedings in court against.

  2. to follow up or carry forward something undertaken or begun, usually to its completion: to prosecute a war.

  1. to carry on or practice.

verb (used without object),pros·e·cut·ed, pros·e·cut·ing.
  1. Law.

Origin of prosecute

1400–50; late Middle English prosecuten to follow up, go on with <Latin prōsecūtus, past participle of prōsequī to pursue, proceed with, equivalent to prō-pro-1 + secū-, variant stem of sequī to follow + -tus past participle suffix

Other words for prosecute

Other words from prosecute

  • pros·e·cut·a·ble, adjective
  • pros·e·cut·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·pros·e·cut·a·ble, adjective
  • qua·si-pros·e·cut·ed, adjective
  • re·pros·e·cute, verb (used with object), re·pros·e·cut·ed, re·pros·e·cut·ing.
  • well-pros·e·cut·ed, adjective

Words that may be confused with prosecute

Words Nearby prosecute Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prosecute in a sentence

  • prosecute him, and you may promise yourself to be blown up at every gaming-house in the town.

    The World's Greatest Books, Vol IV. | Editors: Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton
  • prosecute the boy, and you put him in prison, and spend more money; you get none back.

    The New Mistress | George Manville Fenn

British Dictionary definitions for prosecute


/ (ˈprɒsɪˌkjuːt) /

  1. (tr) to bring a criminal action against (a person) for some offence

  2. (intr)

    • to seek redress by legal proceedings

    • to institute or conduct a prosecution

  1. (tr) to engage in or practise (a profession or trade)

  2. (tr) to continue to do (a task, etc)

Origin of prosecute

C15: from Latin prōsequī to follow, from prō- forward + sequī to follow

Derived forms of prosecute

  • prosecutable, adjective

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