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[pur-si-kyoo-shuh n] /ˌpɜr sɪˈkyu ʃən/
the act of persecuting.
the state of being persecuted.
a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group:
the persecutions of Christians by the Romans.
1300-50; Middle English persecucio(u)n < Late Latin persecūtiōn- (stem of persecūtiō), Latin: prosecution, equivalent to persecūt(us) past participle of persequī (see persecute) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
persecutional, adjective
nonpersecution, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for persecutions
  • The old persecutions are rising again throughout the world.
  • By the daily persecutions and dangers to which he exposed himself for the faith, his whole life was a continued martyrdom.
  • He often met with violent persecutions, but overcame them by meekness and patience.
  • He rejoiced in calumnies and persecutions, and always triumphed over them by silence and patience.
  • The living did not feel themselves safe from the persecutions of the dead until a body of water had been put between them.
  • Neither scandals nor persecutions can make his word fail, or overcome the church which he planted at so dear a rate.
  • Her persecutions ought to be ended: she ought to return to the society of which she was an ornament.
  • Though the persecutions and arrests gradually disappeared, the dissenters were socially ostracized.
  • Memories of earlier persecutions were invoked to build morale and prepare the people for possible further sacrifices.
  • For people of faith, civility reflects deeply rooted teachings based on histories of religious persecutions, exile and migration.
British Dictionary definitions for persecutions


the act of persecuting or the state of being persecuted
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 persecutions



mid-14c., "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Old French persecucion "persecution, damage, affliction, suffering" (12c.) and directly from Latin persecutionem (nominative persecutio), noun of action from past participle stem of persequi "follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per- "through" (see per) + sequi "follow" (see sequel). Psychological persecution complex is recorded from 1961; earlier persecution mania (1892).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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persecutions in the Bible

The first great persecution for religious opinion of which we have any record was that which broke out against the worshippers of God among the Jews in the days of Ahab, when that king, at the instigation of his wife Jezebel, "a woman in whom, with the reckless and licentious habits of an Oriental queen, were united the fiercest and sternest qualities inherent in the old Semitic race", sought in the most relentless manner to extirpate the worship of Jehovah and substitute in its place the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal. Ahab's example in this respect was followed by Manasseh, who "shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" (2 Kings 21:16; comp. 24:4). In all ages, in one form or another, the people of God have had to suffer persecution. In its earliest history the Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions. Of subsequent centuries in our own and in other lands the same sad record may be made. Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel by force (Matt. 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Rom. 14:4; James 4:11, 12). The words of Ps. 7:13, "He ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors," ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version, "He maketh his arrows fiery [shafts]."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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