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

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 Breakdowns appeared to afflict every aspect of the agency's operations, including the condition of crucial defensive equipment. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Capitol police watchdog says heavy, non-lethal munitions would've helped in Jan. 6 insurrection," 15 Apr. 2021 But any such pretensions are kept in check here, as is the ponderousness and sentimentality that often afflict such exercises in mythmaking. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Night of the Kings,’ a movie about the power of storytelling, also has a good story to tell," 26 Feb. 2021 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

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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

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.

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 Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!