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

Trump has insisted that those on the right have been victims of harassment as well, pointing to high-profile incidents in which conservatives have been accosted in restaurants and public spaces by political critics. Jonathan Lemire, The Seattle Times, "A short-lived call for unity shelved for political barbs," 26 Oct. 2018 The last thing any Twitter user wants is to be accosted by one’s followers. Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge, "After the SEC settlement, who will review Elon Musk’s tweets?," 5 Oct. 2018 On FOX News: FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens detail how they were accosted by alleged Antifa protesters while trying to have breakfast in Philadelphia Monday. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Ohio special election in spotlight; Attack on conservative stars unmasks 'Maxine Waters' America'," 7 Aug. 2018 In Nindirí, a suburb of Masaya, armed men accosted a vehicle carrying Nicaraguan Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata, shooting the vehicle’s tires and breaking windows, according to a Winder Morales, a spokesman for the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Eleven Killed in Nicaragua as Government Targets Opposition Strongholds," 15 July 2018 During an interview with BuzzFeed News just a month before her passing, Roxsana talked about her recent decision to flee Honduras after being accosted by MS-13 gang members while walking home. Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "Roxsana Hernández, a 33-Year-Old Honduran Trans Woman, Died in ICE Custody Amid Concerns She Was Abused," 4 Dec. 2018 That was the basic premise behind the latest episode of Billy on the Street, the man-on-the-street quiz show that features Eichner and his famous pals basically accosting New York City civilians all in the name of pop culture. Dan Barna, Glamour, "Billy Eichner and Tiffany Haddish Want to Do a 'Woke' Remake of Hocus Pocus," 24 Oct. 2018 But then, a neighbor accosted Kaderbhai Ali Asgar and his wife, Sehera Ali Asgar, and their accompanying Realtors. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "He threatened to burn this couple's home down if they moved in. Now, he's doing time.," 12 June 2018 Two males accosted a male pedestrian and demanded his property at gunpoint. Lisa M. Bolton, Washington Post, "Crime reports for Anne Arundel and Howard counties and for Annapolis," 27 June 2018

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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Statistics for accost

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for accost

The first known use of accost was in 1567

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More Definitions for accost



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

Comments on accost

What made you want to look up accost? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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