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

Baker, who rarely supports candidates outside of Prince George’s, said he was drawn to Trone for his avowed commitment to increasing spending for research on Alzheimer’s, a disease that afflicts Baker’s wife, Christa Beverly. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "Tycoon turned candidate: Why Trone’s critics say he’s trying to buy a seat in Congress," 28 Apr. 2018 The thing about Netflix that makes it both awesome and somewhat terrifying (for the FOMO-afflicted, at least) is the streaming network’s ability to play to niche audiences. Thomas Harlander, Los Angeles Magazine, "Guillermo del Toro’s Horror Anthology Is the Future of Netflix," 15 May 2018 James said that many voters are beginning to connect the inability of Congress to act after horrific tragedies afflicting American kids with the influence of the gun lobby. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump's NRA speech comes with an eye to 2018," 4 May 2018 But there are two different ways of considering the tsundoku-afflicted: One on side is the tendency to see the pileup of unread material as a burden. John Warner,, "Got a bad case of tsundoku? Don't let it get you down.," 28 Mar. 2018 Researchers believe the child, whose gender is still unknown, died after a deadly malaria outbreak afflicted the fifth-century community that once inhabited this tiny medieval town on a hill about 60 miles north of Rome. Kristine Phillips, The Seattle Times, "Archaeologists find ‘vampire burial’ site of a child feared capable of rising from the dead," 26 Oct. 2018 High school biology trains us to think of recessive/dominant and afflicted/unafflicted in very binary terms. Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: The toxic truths within our DNA," 18 July 2018 Heart-valve disease can afflict one valve or several in combination, but the aortic and mitral valves are the ones most frequently affected. Marlene Cimons, Washington Post, "Latest heart valve treatment allows more patients to avoid open-heart surgery," 10 June 2018 Of great concern to health care professionals in sports, a heart afflicted by cardiomyopathy can experience sudden cardiac arrest during strenuous exercise. Michael Mccann,, "Examining the Zeke Upshaw Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the NBA," 1 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

15 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on afflict

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with afflict

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for afflict

Spanish Central: Translation of afflict

Nglish: Translation of afflict for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afflict for Arabic Speakers

Comments on afflict

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a nest or breeding place

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