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 crash was the second large air disaster to afflict Ukraine this year., "Ukraine Plane Crash Death Toll Rises to 26, With 1 Survivor," 26 Sep. 2020 The crash was the second large air disaster to afflict Ukraine this year. Fox News, "Ukraine plane crash death toll rises to 26, with 1 survivor," 26 Sep. 2020 The market ignores hardships that afflict normal people through no fault of their own. Edward P. Lazear, National Review, "The Poor Fare Best Under Free-Market Capitalism," 9 Sep. 2020 Cognitive dissonance must afflict anyone advocating for social constructivism in today’s rigidly neoliberal corporate environment. Hari Kunzru, The New York Review of Books, "The Wages of Whiteness," 8 Sep. 2020 Officials called it one of the most powerful hurricanes to afflict the U.S. Gulf Coast in decades. Washington Post, "Louisiana suffered ‘tremendous devastation’ at height of Hurricane Laura’s power," 28 Aug. 2020 Heat and humidity return to afflict our Thursday and Friday, along with thunderstorm chances. Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Muggy heat holds, with thunderstorms at times," 25 Aug. 2020 That last one seems to afflict the Twins more than most. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, "Hit and miss: Twins, MLB batters go through offensive slump," 13 Aug. 2020 Sadly, the incident, which authorities are referring to as a possible drowning, marks the latest tragedy to afflict the cast of the popular TV musical dramedy, which ran on Fox from 2009 to '15. oregonlive, "‘Glee’ curse? Naya Rivera apparent drowning adds to tragedies linked to show," 10 July 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

3 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 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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