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[pros-i-kyoot] /ˈprɒs ɪˌkyut/
verb (used with object), prosecuted, prosecuting.
  1. to institute legal proceedings against (a person).
  2. to seek to enforce or obtain by legal process.
  3. to conduct criminal proceedings in court against.
to follow up or carry forward something undertaken or begun, usually to its completion:
to prosecute a war.
to carry on or practice.
verb (used without object), prosecuted, prosecuting.
  1. to institute and carry on a legal prosecution.
  2. to act as prosecutor.
Origin of prosecute
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English prosecuten to follow up, go on with < Latin prōsecūtus, past participle of prōsequī to pursue, proceed with, equivalent to prō- pro-1 + secū-, variant stem of sequī to follow + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
prosecutable, adjective
prosecutability, noun
nonprosecutable, adjective
quasi-prosecuted, adjective
reprosecute, verb (used with object), reprosecuted, reprosecuting.
well-prosecuted, adjective
Can be confused
persecute, prosecute.
3. perform, discharge, execute, conduct. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prosecute
  • So it should be easy for you to win a civil action against homeopaths, or to get the police to prosecute them.
  • There have been several incidents where they had to fire and/or prosecute baggage screeners at some airports.
  • Certainly, whether there is enough evidence to prosecute them is debatable.
  • But there is a law on paper to prosecute the offender.
  • The department does prosecute criminal acts of infringement, although rarely.
  • Officials say that they are determined to arrest and prosecute the culprits.
  • The government is still riddled with corruption, and not nearly enough has been done to prosecute crooked officials.
  • However, it has faced criticism for failing to prosecute the ringleaders.
  • The conspiracy charge is much more of a long shot to prosecute since it would require proving intent.
  • It is axiomatic in criminal law that it is tougher to prosecute a case the second time around.
British Dictionary definitions for prosecute


(transitive) to bring a criminal action against (a person) for some offence
  1. to seek redress by legal proceedings
  2. to institute or conduct a prosecution
(transitive) to engage in or practise (a profession or trade)
(transitive) to continue to do (a task, etc)
Derived Forms
prosecutable, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin prōsequī to follow, from prō- forward + sequī to follow
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 prosecute

early 15c., "follow up, pursue" (some course or action), from Latin prosecutus, past participle of prosequi "follow after, accompany; chase, pursue; attack, assail, abuse" (see pursue). Meaning "bring to a court of law" is first recorded 1570s. Meaning "go into detail" is from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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