ac·​cost | \ ə-ˈkȯst How to pronounce accost (audio) , -ˈkäst \
accosted; accosting; accosts

Definition of accost

transitive verb

: to approach and speak to (someone) in an often challenging or aggressive way He was accosted by a stranger on the street.

Examples of accost in a Sentence

He was accosted by three gang members on the subway. She was so famous that people would accost her on the street and ask for an autograph.
Recent Examples on the Web Fed up with the culture of extortion in his home country of Honduras, Alexander stopped bribing the gang members who accosted him on his way to pay workers at his father’s small ranch. oregonlive, "Oregon funds program to help immigrants with legal aid," 23 Nov. 2019 In 2016, authorities said Baker was sentenced in Battle Creek, Michigan, to 48 months probation for accosting, enticing or soliciting a child for an immoral purpose. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Plainfield man sentenced to 35 years for exploiting 13-year-old Illinois girl," 15 Nov. 2019 This is my dream point of view: In the Antarctic, probably doing something really cool, and being accosted by a sweet, bouncy lump of baby seal. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Bushfire heroes, a double twin story and an entertaining cuttlefish," 11 Jan. 2020 Audrey was on her stomach now, tanning and being accosted by a teen-ager selling friendship bracelets. Camille Bordas, The New Yorker, "Only Orange," 16 Dec. 2019 In the first incident, the student described the man who accosted her as in his early 30s with dirty blond hair and a goatee. Los Angeles Times, "After 4 people grabbed near Aliso Viejo trail, police arrest man on suspicion of child molestation," 26 Sep. 2019 West Bloomfield Township officials had asked the governor to remove Lobodocky after an incident in which the treasurer allegedly arrived at the township hall drunk and accosted female employees, according to the Associated Press. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Wayne State teeters on edge of gridlock while board members continue to fight," 12 Dec. 2019 The two hopped over the fare turnstiles and ran up the east stairwell, where Webb was chased and accosted by four people who punched and kicked him, police said. Deanese Williams-harris,, "Teen facing gun charges in connection with fatal shooting at Howard Street ‘L’ station," 5 Dec. 2019 An old man lurks in the woods, accosting people to ... pull their pants down. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "The Factory Is a Chilling Account of the Contemporary Workplace," 2 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'accost.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of accost

1567, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for accost

borrowed from Middle French accoster, going back to Old French, "to go alongside of, sail along the coast of, place (a vessel) beside another" (sʼacoster a "to take a place beside, draw near, support"), probably going back to Vulgar Latin *accostāre, from Latin ad- ad- + costa "rib, side" — more at coast entry 1

Note: A common, polysemous verb in Anglo-French, though the English verb, which only begins to appear in the late 16th century, is apparently borrowed directly from Continental French. The sense "to approach and speak to" only appears in French in the early 17th century, about the same time that it appears in English.

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Time Traveler for accost

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The first known use of accost was in 1567

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Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Accost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for accost


How to pronounce accost (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of accost

: to approach and speak to (someone) often in an angry, aggressive, or unwanted way


ac·​cost | \ ə-ˈkȯst How to pronounce accost (audio) \
accosted; accosting

Kids Definition of accost

: to approach and speak to angrily or aggressively

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More from Merriam-Webster on accost

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for accost

Spanish Central: Translation of accost

Nglish: Translation of accost for Spanish Speakers

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