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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Regardless of what disasters afflict the world over the next 1,000 years, Edvard Munch’s iconic depiction of human suffering, The Scream, should be around to greet whoever’s left. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Norway Preserves ‘The Scream’ for Future Generations by Burying Digital Copy in Arctic Coal Mine," 30 Nov. 2020 In the future, store workers may log on during quiet times and interact with online shoppers to improve the low sales conversion rates that afflict many luxury-brand websites. Carol Ryan, WSJ, "To Sell Luxury Online, Deep Pockets Matter More Than Ever," 11 Dec. 2020 High unemployment continues to afflict the U.S. economy and millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "A new stimulus deal is brewing — here's what that could mean for unemployment benefits," 7 Dec. 2020 Mental health problems afflict roughly one in five young people, according to DHS. Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune, "Ikea's foundation donates $1.2 million to Minnesota student mental health programs," 26 Nov. 2020 It’s the anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout, and stress that have come to afflict employees throughout the pandemic. Fortune, "Your employees are not OK: How to handle mental health at work during a pandemic," 16 Nov. 2020 Similar problems afflict the Paris accord on climate change, as India, China and other members remain major polluters. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Partisan zeal and the Minnesota Legislature, nuclear weapons test ban treaty, blame for COVID-19 deaths, Supreme Court strategy, Sid Hartman's omissions, people behaving well," 26 Oct. 2020 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for afflict

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on afflict

What made you want to look up afflict? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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