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

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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 These robust immune responses help to explain why 80% of autoimmune diseases afflict women., "Women report worse side effects after a COVID vaccine," 9 Mar. 2021 These robust immune responses help to explain why 80 percent of autoimmune diseases afflict women. New York Times, "Women Report Worse Side Effects After a Covid Vaccine," 8 Mar. 2021 But when added together, rare diseases afflict 8 to 10% of the population. Glenn Howatt, Star Tribune, "Type 1 diabetes, rare diseases, added to Minnesota COVID-19 vaccine priority groups," 2 Mar. 2021 Normally, biologists said, the virus doesn’t afflict smallmouth bass. Mike Argento,, "Dammed, drugged, poisoned: Shad, eels and smallmouth bass struggle to survive in Susquehanna River," 27 Feb. 2021 Eating disorders can afflict people of any age, ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, or weight, experts say. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "‘I was living in hell’: COVID's triggers push some with eating disorders to finally get help," 22 Feb. 2021 Few hospices better epitomize the most serious problems that afflict the industry — or underscore the failure of regulators to address them — than Ace of Hearts. Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times, "End-of-life care has boomed in California. So has fraud targeting older Americans," 9 Dec. 2020 Since the first 2016 reports, the mysterious episodes seemed to afflict more than 50 US diplomats and their families; more than 40 in Havana and at least a dozen more at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "US diplomats’ brain injuries may be from covert microwave attack, experts say," 10 Dec. 2020 The pandemic has exposed major disparities in the economy that often afflict women, especially women of color. Dallas News, "How are women navigating the pandemic economy? With flexible schedules, paid time off and other help — if they can get it," 17 Jan. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for afflict

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 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.

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