Definition of pest in English:



  • 1A destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, livestock, etc.

    ‘the tomato plant attracts a pest called whitefly’
    ‘an effective method for controlling insect pests’
    as modifier ‘pest control’
    • ‘For success in controlling nematode pests in tomatoes, plant marigolds with them.’
    • ‘Spider mites, mealy worms and scale are insect pests that are attracted to orchids.’
    • ‘Slugs and snails were relegated from top spot to third place in the list of the most troublesome garden pests for 2003.’
    • ‘Synthetic pesticides sprayed on crops to check insect pests also kill non-target insects.’
    • ‘Soil insect pests are generally more of a problem on corn and soybeans than on small grains and forages.’
    • ‘Less genetic diversity means less resistance to pests, diseases and climate changes.’
    • ‘Mycoinsecticides are fungal sprays that work on insect pests from the inside out.’
    • ‘The biological control of insect pests by using spiders as predators is being studied in four districts of Kerala.’
    • ‘Fox is not considered a pest but an asset by any real country person unless they are cruel sport supporters or make a few bob from the fur trade.’
    • ‘The single most destructive insect pest for Eastern growers - the infamous plum curculio - is unknown in the West.’
    • ‘How do I get rid of these annoying pests without destroying my other foliage or the oak tree?’
    • ‘Another problem that troubled Zhu was pests, such as mosquitoes, flies and rats.’
    • ‘From what you say, it sounds as though these insects or spiders are casual intruders, and what we would consider a nuisance rather than a true pest.’
    • ‘Diversity is prized by scientists as a hedge against diseases, pests and climate change.’
    • ‘Wildlife and beneficial birds return to help keep down insects and other pests.’
    • ‘Birds are the only real garden pests that will come between you and your fair share of seeds.’
    • ‘Even a normal seed requires two years of trials and tests to ensure that new diseases and pests are not introduced.’
    • ‘The rice field rat in particular is a real pest in south east Asia and we have colleagues working on that problem in the Philippines and Indonesia.’
    • ‘Growing the right herbs and flowers with your crops encourages beneficial insects and natural predators to control pests.’
    • ‘Ministers are going to great lengths to point out that the deer is a fine animal, and must not be viewed as a pest or a nuisance.’
    1. 1.1informal An annoying person or thing; a nuisance.
      ‘he was a real pest’
      • ‘A drug addict dubbed by a judge a ‘thorough pest and nuisance to society’ has walked free from court.’
      • ‘At times he can be really sincere, but until you get to know him he's a real pest.’
      • ‘Now the camel and its driver had lost it economic value and became a nuisance and a pest.’
      • ‘They said that he was an annoyance and a pest to have around and ask favors of.’
      • ‘He still looked at her as the annoying pest with pigtails.’
      • ‘He didn't want her to think of him as an annoying pest.’
      • ‘I have a little brother, the most annoying pest there is; he seems to have never heard about the word privacy.’
      • ‘Arthur is a troublesome pest who continually annoys people.’
      nuisance, bother, annoyance, irritation, irritant, thorn in one's flesh, thorn in one's side, vexation, trial, the bane of one's life, menace, curse, problem, trouble, worry, inconvenience, bore, gadfly
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2the pestarchaic Bubonic plague.
      • ‘Moreover, the virulence of the pest was the greater by reason the intercourse was apt to convey it from the sick to the whole, just as fire devours things dry or greasy when they are brought close to it.’


Late 15th century (denoting the bubonic plague): from French peste or Latin pestis ‘plague’.