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 The masked gunmen, dressed all in black, accosted the workers in a hallway and forced them into a room at gunpoint, the police said. New York Times, "Coronavirus Bandits? 2 Armed Men in Surgical Masks Rob Racetrack," 8 Mar. 2020 With Antetokounmpo getting swarmed and accosted in the paint by Denver's big wings and forwards and Milwaukee's three-pointers falling at just a 30% clip, there was no way Bucks could keep up. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Nuggets 127, Bucks 115: Lack of rest not a problem for Denver," 31 Jan. 2020 Christine Mirzayan, a 28-year-old biochemist, was accosted in Georgetown in 1998 while walking home from a friend’s cookout., "“This man terrorized our community,” DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told The Washington Post.," 16 Nov. 2019 Walking down the hallway of his Baltimore middle school one afternoon in November 1983, he was accosted and shot for his Georgetown University jacket. Tom Jackman, Washington Post, "Arrested as teens, three men are expected to be exonerated after 36 years behind bars for wrongful murder conviction," 25 Nov. 2019 The Democratic legislator who wrote the bill was physically accosted outside of a Sacramento restaurant. Los Angeles Times, "The hidden battle over California’s new vaccine law," 22 Sep. 2019 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

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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Accost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 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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