Simple Definition of persecute
: to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs
: to constantly annoy or bother (someone)
Full Definition of persecute
persecuteeplay \ˌpər-si-ˌkyü-ˈtē\ noun
persecutiveplay \ˈpər-si-ˌkyü-tiv\ adjective
persecutorplay \-ˌkyü-tər\ noun
persecutoryplay \-kyü-ˌtȯr-ē, -ˌkyü-tə-rē\ adjective
Examples of persecute in a sentence
The country's leaders relentlessly persecuted those who fought against the regime.
They were persecuted for their beliefs.
Origin and Etymology of persecute
Middle English, from Middle French persecuter, back-formation from persecuteur persecutor, from Late Latin persecutor, from persequi to persecute, from Latin, to pursue, from per- through + sequi to follow — more at sue
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of persecute
PERSECUTE Defined for Kids
Definition of persecute for Students
: to treat continually in a cruel and harmful way
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up persecute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).