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 Nafisi’s dispatches are eloquent essays on literature’s power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Chris Vognar, USA TODAY, 9 Mar. 2022 Not all of the disease’s effects are well understood: researchers are still studying how Covid-19 damages the brain and inhibits smell and the mechanism behind the long-term symptoms that afflict about 1 in 5 adult survivors of the disease. Zachary Snowdon Smith, Forbes, 26 May 2022 Near or above record highs in the mid-90s are projected to afflict the Houston area until Monday. Dan Carson, Chron, 13 May 2022 One type of dysautonomia thought to afflict long COVID sufferers is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS. Erin Prater, Fortune, 31 May 2022 Micronutrient deficiencies afflict more than two billion people worldwide, including 340 million children. Rachel Berkowitz, Scientific American, 19 May 2022 The gas price issue encapsulates a dilemma that can often afflict presidents at times of international crises. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 9 Mar. 2022 Overdoses afflict the races about equally, while white people are 55% more likely to drink themselves to death through cirrhosis or chronic liver disease. Michael Warren, ajc, 12 Apr. 2022 Overdoses afflict the races about equally, while white people are 55 percent more likely to drink themselves to death through cirrhosis or chronic liver disease. NBC News, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About afflict

Time Traveler for afflict

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near afflict




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for afflict

Last Updated

30 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!