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[pur-si-kyoot] /ˈpɜr sɪˌkyut/
verb (used with object), persecuted, persecuting.
to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
to annoy or trouble persistently.
Origin of persecute
late Middle English
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 forms
persecutingly, adverb
persecutive, adjective
persecutiveness, noun
persecutor, noun
[pur-si-kyoo-tuh-ree, -kyuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈpɜr sɪˌkyu tə ri, -kyəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/ (Show IPA),
nonpersecuting, adjective
nonpersecutive, adjective
nonpersecutory, adjective
overpersecute, verb (used with object), overpersecuted, overpersecuting.
unpersecuted, adjective
unpersecuting, adjective
unpersecutive, adjective
Can be confused
persecute, prosecute.
1. afflict, torture, torment. 2. worry, badger, vex, bother, pester. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for persecuted
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The triumph of persecuted virtue and the punishment of wickedness invariably crown the story.

    Tales of Old Japan Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford
  • It is over at least for the time that we are poor and persecuted.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • He was not, indeed, at all willing to be persecuted, and would no doubt have at once withdrawn anything they wished.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • What can a soldier, and a Pretorian, want with the persecuted Christians, if not to destroy them?

  • Under this title we are persecuted, and peaceable citizens are sacrificed on the altars of their country!

    History of the Girondists, Volume I Alphonse de Lamartine
British Dictionary definitions for persecuted


verb (transitive)
to oppress, harass, or maltreat, esp because of race, religion, etc
to bother persistently
Derived Forms
persecutive, adjective
persecutor, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for persecuted



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
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