Definition of persecute in English:



  • 1 Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs.

    ‘his followers were persecuted by the authorities’
    • ‘We should also be targeting the source of the problem: repressive governments which persecute their own citizens.’
    • ‘The bond was strengthened because individuals persecuted by the authorities could seek succor and solace from the Church.’
    • ‘Many have been harassed or persecuted in their own countries for political or religious reasons.’
    • ‘For hundreds of years, the Jews have been persecuted in many countries.’
    • ‘During Bulgaria's communist period, his followers were persecuted by the authorities.’
    • ‘Both of them were persecuted relentlessly for their beliefs.’
    • ‘When persecuted by the government, they have fled to the central highlands from the north.’
    • ‘We see a dictator using force to repress and persecute his opponents.’
    • ‘The Jews - among other minorities - were persecuted by the Nazis.’
    • ‘He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against.’
    • ‘Are they being persecuted on the grounds of race?’
    • ‘He was martyred after refusing to persecute Christians and became a patron saint of soldiers.’
    • ‘Morality demands that the will of the majority should not prevail where a minority is persecuted purely because of religion or race.’
    • ‘Asylum will be given to people who are persecuted for their beliefs.’
    • ‘Besides, almost all of them are already old and they're the last people persecuted for political reasons.’
    • ‘The Muslim population claims it was systematically persecuted for its religion by the Greek Orthodox majority.’
    • ‘The Huguenots were French Protestants who had been persecuted for their faith.’
    • ‘The cultists feel that they are being persecuted unfairly.’
    • ‘She claims she has been persecuted because of her religious beliefs.’
    • ‘One of these is that millions of people around the world die or are severely persecuted for their beliefs.’
    oppress, abuse, victimize, ill-treat, mistreat, maltreat, discriminate against, punish, inflict pain on, inflict suffering on, tyrannize, afflict, torment, torture, martyr
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    1. 1.1Harass or annoy (someone) persistently.
      ‘Hilda was persecuted by some of the other girls’
      • ‘The moral is: persecuting farmers is not the way to have lower food prices, nor is it the way to make farm income lower than other forms of income.’
      • ‘In July, he confronted her about the investigation, accusing her of persecuting him, and demanding to know how she had any right to continue the investigation.’
      • ‘Persecuting the poor guy isn't going to make him feel very good either.’
      • ‘They are doing the opposite by picking on them and by persecuting people more than they have for years.’
      • ‘We are not in the business of persecuting our members because the state considers someone guilty.’
      • ‘For three years after DNA evidence proved his innocence, the authorities persisted in persecuting him.’
      • ‘The most common symptom of paranoia is the belief that someone or something is persecuting you.’
      • ‘Totalitarian governments love these kind of laws that make everyone a potential criminal, so that authorities can legally justify persecuting anyone they don't like.’
      • ‘The persecuted, bullied and misunderstood see a kindred spirit.’
      • ‘Lone parents, disabled people and the long term unemployed are harried and persecuted.’
      • ‘Local authorities should concentrate on providing services to the public not persecuting honest shopkeepers.’
      • ‘It's just a pathetic mind game played by lefty town planners who get their kicks by persecuting motorists, because of course, we're all evil.’
      • ‘Last week we witnessed two fine examples of the extent to which anti-smoking zealots will go in order to hound and persecute smokers.’
      • ‘Isn't it disgraceful the way they're persecuting the poor guy?’
      • ‘We are not out for prosecution or persecuting people, we just want people to see reason we want them to adhere to the speed limit.’
      • ‘The police are too busy persecuting and harassing motorists.’
      • ‘I hope that you and the people will reserve judgment on me until the newspaper is done persecuting me.’
      • ‘I have the greatest admiration for the man and there is no question of persecuting him.’
      • ‘They were looked down upon but generally not actively persecuted.’
      harass, hound, plague, badger, harry, bait, intimidate, pick on, trouble, molest, tease, pester, bother, worry, annoy, bedevil, bully, victimize, terrorize
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Late Middle English: from Old French persecuter, from Latin persecut- followed with hostility, from the verb persequi, from per- through, utterly + sequi follow, pursue.