[ per-soo ]
See synonyms for: pursuepursuedpursuing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),pur·sued, pur·su·ing.
  1. to follow in order to overtake, capture, kill, etc.; chase.

  2. to follow close upon; go with; attend: Bad luck pursued him.

  1. to strive to gain; seek to attain or accomplish (an end, object, purpose, etc.).

  2. to proceed in accordance with (a method, plan, etc.).

  3. to carry on or continue (a course of action, a train of thought, an inquiry, studies, etc.).

  4. to continue to annoy, afflict, or trouble.

  5. to practice (an occupation, pastime, etc.).

  6. to continue to discuss (a subject, topic, etc.).

  7. to follow: They pursued the river to its source. I felt their eyes pursuing me.

  8. to continue; go on with (one's course, a journey, etc.).

verb (used without object),pur·sued, pur·su·ing.
  1. to chase after someone or something; to follow in pursuit: They spotted the suspect but decided not to pursue.

  2. to continue.

Origin of pursue

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English pursuen, from Anglo-French pursuer, ultimately from Latin prōsequī “to pursue, follow, continue”; see pro-1, sue, prosecute

word story For pursue

The current spelling of the English verb pursue dates from about 1300. It is one of several former spellings, including perseve, pursiew, pursuwe. The Middle English variants come from Anglo-French and Old French porsure, poursuire, porsivre (with many other spelling variants), ultimately from Latin prōsequi “to attend (with honors or compliments), go in pursuit of, follow with hostile intent, harry, examine or follow up (a subject or topic), continue,” which is the source of English prosecute
The many Latin meanings of prōsequi carry over into Old French and Middle English, and by the end of the Middle English period, the word pursue already had all of its current meanings. On the other hand, the word prosecute originally meant “to follow up, pursue, continue,” but shortly afterward, in the early 16th century, it took on its primary current meaning “to institute legal proceedings.”

Other words for pursue

Other words from pursue

  • pur·su·a·ble, adjective
  • out·pur·sue, verb (used with object), out·pur·sued, out·pur·su·ing.
  • re·pur·sue, verb (used with object), re·pur·sued, re·pur·su·ing.
  • un·pur·su·a·ble, adjective

Words that may be confused with pursue

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pursue in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pursue


/ (pəˈsjuː) /

verb-sues, -suing or -sued (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to follow (a fugitive, etc) in order to capture or overtake

  2. (esp of something bad or unlucky) to follow closely or accompany: ill health pursued her

  1. to seek or strive to attain (some object, desire, etc)

  2. to follow the precepts of (a plan, policy, etc)

  3. to apply oneself to (one's studies, hobbies, etc)

  4. to follow persistently or seek to become acquainted with

  5. to continue to discuss or argue (a point, subject, etc)

Origin of pursue

C13: from Anglo-Norman pursiwer, from Old French poursivre, from Latin prōsequī to follow after

Derived forms of pursue

  • pursuer, noun

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