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 In the video, a woman’s scream rises over the shouts of the crowd as plainclothes security forces wearing white surgical masks accost one man, who puts his hands up to his face and hunches over to shield his body. Washington Post, "As internet restored, online Iran protest videos show chaos," 24 Nov. 2019 Earlier this week, Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was accused of verbally accosting three women reporters, emphatically praising relief pitcher Roberto Osuna. CNN, "MLB umpire apologizes for tweet about buying an assault rifle over the impeachment inquiry," 25 Oct. 2019 He’s accosted workers early in the morning, when stores are opening, brandished a handgun and demanded to be taken to the safe, said Steve Linders, a police spokesman. Mara H. Gottfried, Twin Cities, "Police searching for serial robber who’s targeted workers at 6 St. Paul businesses at gunpoint," 11 Oct. 2019 Sirens of ambulances and fire trucks wailed as the police chased and accosted the protesters. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "Protests Erupt in Hong Kong, Overshadowing China’s National Day Parade," 1 Oct. 2019 The Sheriff’s Department is working to determine whether the four attacks, in which three young girls and a woman have been accosted in the same area, are related. Los Angeles Times, "After 4 people grabbed near Aliso Viejo trail, police arrest man on suspicion of child molestation," 26 Sep. 2019 When Chotkevys arrived, the city attorney wrote, Bartlett was helping him look for Brough when Brough allegedly accosted her. Christine Mai-duc,, "Orange County assemblyman accused of misconduct by four women," 26 June 2019 On his way back to Village Hall for a planning-commission meeting, Warren was accosted by four noisy women at a table outside Sant Ambroeus. Bob Morris, The New Yorker, "How Old Are You, Mr. Mayor?," 19 Aug. 2019 The poor child who picked Scotland out was then accosted by the presiding FIFA officials and ordered to return the ball the cages, no doubt triggering an acute phobia of miniature footballs for the rest of his life., "Morrisons, Donald Trump & a Boozy Rod Stewart: 8 of the Strangest Cup Draws of All Time," 21 June 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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about accost

Time Traveler for accost

Time Traveler

The first known use of accost was in 1567

See more words from the same year

Statistics for accost

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Accost.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!