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[pes-ter] /ˈpɛs tər/
verb (used with object)
to bother persistently with petty annoyances; trouble:
Don't pester me with your trivial problems.
Obsolete. to overcrowd.
Origin of pester
1530-40; perhaps aphetic variant of empester, impester to tangle, encumber (though pester is found earlier than these 2 words) < Middle French empestrer to hobble, entangle < Vulgar Latin *impāstōriāre to hobble, equivalent to im- im-1 + pāstōri(a) a hobble, noun use of Latin pāstōrius of a herdsman or shepherd + -āre infinitive suffix (see pastor); aphetic form apparently reinforced by pest (cf. -er6)
Related forms
pesterer, noun
pesteringly, adverb
pestersome, adjective
unpestered, adjective
1. annoy, vex, tease, disturb; irritate, provoke, plague; badger, harry, hector.
1. delight, entertain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pester
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I blurted out "What is he that he should pester his betters with his attentions?"

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • Any dogs that can trace the elephant and pester him with their barring would do.

    The Bush Boys Captain Mayne Reid
  • I hope you will succeed, for the girl doesn't want Richard, and it is a shame to pester her and the poor old squire.

    Ande Trembath Matthew Stanley Kemp
  • What right had she to pester him with questions like that in his own house?

    Reginald Cruden Talbot Baines Reed
  • He can, when necessary, pester responsible persons till they are goaded into action.

    Personality in Literature Rolfe Arnold Scott-James
  • So long as they think she's got a cent comin' to her they'll pester her in every way they can, I believe.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • For a little time all goes well; then thistles, burdocks, mulleins, and briers come to pester him and increase his labors.

  • Do you want me to pester every office in the government with new inquiries?

    Paul Patoff F. Marion Crawford
  • She could not know anything, and why did they want to pester the poor thing?

    The Shepherd of the North Richard Aumerle Maher
British Dictionary definitions for pester


(transitive) to annoy or nag continually
Derived Forms
pesterer, noun
pesteringly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Old French empestrer to hobble (a horse), from Vulgar Latin impāstōriāre (unattested) to use a hobble, from pāstōria (unattested) a hobble, from Latin pāstōrius relating to a herdsman, from pastor herdsman
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 pester

1520s, "to clog, entangle, encumber," probably a shortening of Middle French empestrer "place in an embarrassing situation" (Modern French empêtrer, Walloon epasturer), from Vulgar Latin *impastoriare "to hobble" (an animal), from Latin im- "in" + Medieval Latin pastoria (chorda) "(rope) to hobble an animal," from Latin pastoria, fem. of pastorius "of a herdsman," from pastor "herdsman" (see pastor (n.)). Sense of "annoy, trouble" (1560s) is from influence of pest. Related: Pestered; pestering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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