af·​flict | \ ə-ˈflikt How to pronounce afflict (audio) \
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
2 obsolete
a : humble

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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 The manuscript recently sold for $81,325 in an auction by Bonhams, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to afflict so many around the world. Francesca Giuliani-hoffman, CNN, "Sir Isaac Newton considered curing the plague with toad vomit lozenges, a manuscript reveals," 17 June 2020 That largely recognizes the model as the future of academic publishing in a world where financial constraints increasingly afflict academic institutions of all sizes. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: UC notches a massive win in its quest to improve the scientific publishing model," 17 June 2020 Coronavirus cases continue to afflict 28 Southwest Ohio nursing homes, assisted living and intermediate care facilities., "Which long-term care facilities around Cincinnati have COVID-19 cases? Here are 28 of them," 5 June 2020 Appanah offers a portrait of a place both beautiful and brutal, suggesting that Mayotte, damaged by colonization, corruption, poverty, and neglect, is fated to afflict its inhabitants in turn. The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 1 June 2020 The disease that afflicts Anissa Merriam was named after Spanish neurologist Gonzalo Rodríguez Lafora. Laurie Mcginley, Anchorage Daily News, "Medical research, clinical trials for most diseases take a hit amid pandemic panic," 5 June 2020 More typical are those entrepreneurs who pursued treatment for Ebola, which kills half of those infected, and the Zika infection, which afflicted unborn babies. Sabrina Willmer,, "Venture Capitalists Shun Unprofitable Yet World-Saving Vaccines," 10 May 2020 Through all the conspiratorial whispers and back-room scheming, Sorrentino again reveals the eccentricities and flaws that afflict powerful men. Scott Tobias, New York Times, "12 Great TV Series by Film Directors," 20 May 2020 But growing viruses that can afflict humans can be dangerous and requires facilities with extensive safety features—called biosafety level 3 labs—in which scientists wear full-body hazard suits and other protective gear. Lina Zeldovich/undark, Popular Science, "COVID-19 surface tests can’t make public spaces safe just yet," 15 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for afflict

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for afflict

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for afflict


af·​flict | \ ə-ˈflikt How to pronounce afflict (audio) \
afflicted; afflicting

Kids Definition of afflict

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on afflict

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for afflict

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with afflict

Spanish Central: Translation of afflict

Nglish: Translation of afflict for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afflict for Arabic Speakers

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