af·flict | \ ə-ˈflikt \
afflicted; afflicting; afflicts

Definition of afflict 

transitive verb

1a : to cause pain or suffering to : to distress so severely as to cause persistent suffering or anguish people afflicted with arthritis a region afflicted by hunger and poverty

b : trouble, injure

2 obsolete

a : humble

b : overthrow

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Choose the Right Synonym for afflict

afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

Examples of afflict in a Sentence

The disease afflicts an estimated two million people every year. the South was afflicted by a severe drought

Recent Examples on the Web

DeWitt was the subject of a memorable 2016 profile in New York magazine, which told the tale of an ornery prodigy afflicted by unusually bad luck, and by her own inability to conform to the customs of commercial publishing. Adam Kirsch, The Atlantic, "The Anguished Comedy of Helen DeWitt," 25 June 2018 The research, published June 21 in Neuron, found convincing signs that certain types of herpes virus may promote the complex process that leads to the disease that afflicts some 5.7 million Americans. Melinda Wenner Moyer, Scientific American, "Harder Evidence Builds that Viruses Play a Role in Alzheimer’s," 21 June 2018 The vast majority of those afflicted by mental illness never cause harm to anyone, but sometimes the consequences of going without diagnosis or proper treatment can be dire. Stepfanie Romine,, "Mental health providers, including Lindner Center, face increased demand," 25 Apr. 2018 Venter, who entered the day hitting just .125 in conference games and has been the batter most afflicted by the Tigers' offensive struggles, put those issues behind him -- momentarily, at the very least -- against Mississippi State. Tom Green,, "Brendan Venter's home run sparks Auburn baseball to series win vs. Mississippi State," 15 Apr. 2018 Like many people with an interest in politics, Nevins said last year, he was riveted by the hacking that afflicted the Democratic Party. Anthony Man,, "Notable Florida tentacles in latest Mueller indictments over Russian hacking of Democrats," 13 July 2018 More broadly, this week dealt with the overwhelming discontent of Gilead that afflicts even its most devoted citizens., "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2, Episode 8 Recap: "I Only Wanna Be With You"," 6 June 2018 Addiction and trafficking have long afflicted this poor, predominantly Muslim country, where the rise of drug use is blamed on Western influences and a lack of financial opportunities for young people. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "138 people killed in 2 months in Bangladesh police crackdown on drug dealers," 12 July 2018 The Asia natives have spread through international trade in bees and beekeeping equipment, and now afflict hives in every beekeeping country outside Australia, which has held them off through strict controls. Thor Hanson, WSJ, "The Plight of the Humble Bee," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'afflict.' 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 afflict

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for afflict

Middle English afflihten "to excite, become distressed," probably verbal derivative of affliht, aflyght "disturbed, upset," borrowed from Latin afflīctus, past participle of afflīgere "to knock or strike down, ruin, distress severely," from ad- ad- + flīgere "to strike down" — more at profligate entry 1

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Statistics for afflict

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for afflict

The first known use of afflict was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for afflict


af·flict | \ ə-ˈflikt \
afflicted; afflicting

Kids Definition of afflict

: to cause pain or unhappiness to An unusual illness afflicted the young girl.

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Comments on afflict

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


occurring twice a year or every two years

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