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
b : overthrow

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 This deadly contagion of crime continues to afflict our communities and even shows signs of worsening. Tom Cotton, National Review, 20 Sep. 2021 The argument that 9/11 comedy functioned first as escapism and then as social criticism is compelling, not least because the best satire serves, as the old adage goes, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sascha Cohen, The Atlantic, 10 Sep. 2021 Similar innovations could help improve management of asthma or diabetes, which both afflict nonwhite people at higher rates than white Americans. Dana Goldman, The Conversation, 1 July 2021 Scholars also worry that crisis standards of care will feed into long-standing inequalities in access to health care, because scoring systems are allocating resources based partly on health conditions that disproportionately afflict certain groups. Hannah Knowles, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Sep. 2021 Dinosaurs suffered from some of the same diseases that afflict humans and animals today including cancer, gout and infections. Megan Marples, CNN, 24 Sep. 2021 Next door in Syria, fuel shortages afflict most of the country. Washington Post, 24 July 2021 Unlike Covid-19, which has disproportionately afflicted the elderly, these health conditions and behaviors mostly afflict young and midlife adults, who have more remaining years of life to lose. Richard Jackson, CNN, 13 Sep. 2021 Thibodeaux’s was not the only injury to afflict Oregon’s defense against Fresno State. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 7 Sep. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on afflict

Nglish: Translation of afflict for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afflict for Arabic Speakers


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