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 Jane talks about what the protestors were angry about, and why a reporter outside the statehouse got accosted last week. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Why didn’t Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine end his Stay Safe order before Memorial Day: This Week in the CLE," 4 May 2020 After protesters showed up at Dr. Amy Acton’s house and one accosted a Columbus television reporter, Gov. Mike DeWine spoke out Monday during his daily briefing. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Provocative question: If getting Covid-19 is inevitable, why not just get it out of the way now? This Week in the CLE," 5 May 2020 In the summer of 2015, Premi had accosted a 42-year-old Muslim laborer named Mohammed Reyaz in the nearby town of Shamli. Mohammad Ali, Wired, "The Rise of a Hindu Vigilante in the Age of WhatsApp and Modi," 14 Apr. 2020 Inmates who verbally accosted the couple were transferred to other wings. NBC News, "Gay inmates tie the knot inside Cyprus prison," 16 Jan. 2020 David Willman, 48, of Chesterfield Township was charged with one count each of accosting a child for immoral purposes and using a computer to commit a crime, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office said. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Ex-Utica Eisenhower High School girls basketball coach charged with sexting player," 8 Jan. 2020 Biden isn’t the only candidate to have been accosted at a campaign event. Alexandra Jaffe,, "Biden gets Secret Service protection after protester run-ins," 17 Mar. 2020 Kaiser said that some base workers have been accosted while in uniform. Author: Colleen Shalby, Anchorage Daily News, "Workers at coronavirus quarantine base accosted amid unfounded fears of spreading virus," 11 Feb. 2020 And the fact that its only next-door neighbor is the headquarters of the Capitol Police gives a feeling of extra security in an era where protesters have accosted diners in restaurants around town. Washington Post, "Partisan warfare rages just steps away. But at the Monocle, ‘You check all that at the door.’," 31 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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Cite this Entry

“Accost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on accost

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for accost

Nglish: Translation of accost for Spanish Speakers

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