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 After Booth fired the fatal shot, Rathbone tried to accost him. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 6 Sep. 2022 Lately, most cartoons accost audiences with a therapy session, or a primer on the ABCS of global fascism. Amy Nicholson, Variety, 23 May 2022 Boone smirks when fans accost him for just That One Thing. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2021 The mob proceeded to heckle and accost Lady Bird and LBJ, who was Kennedy’s running mate. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, 10 Sep. 2021 Hurricane incident: Authorities in Mississippi have issued an arrest warrant for a Wooster man who is accused of interrupting a live TV broadcast to accost an MSNBC reporter covering Hurricane Ida, Olivia Mitchell reports. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 1 Sep. 2021 That’s how Aidy Bryant explains the premise of this cut for time sketch from last night’s Saturday Night Live, in which the players all accost host Anya Taylor-Joy with possible Queen’s Gambit parodies, each more ridiculous than the last. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 23 May 2021 Police released surveillance video that showed the moment a woman appeared to accost two Asian women walking on the sidewalk from behind. NBC News, 4 May 2021 With the pandemic closing wrestling arenas, the government has put the Lucha Libre fighters to creative use, enlisting them to enforce mask wearing by pretending to accost people and now this. New York Times, 2 May 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

11 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Accost.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for accost


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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