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 Once considered rare, the progressive disorder is now believed to afflict more than 250,000 people worldwide and often leads to heart failure and death, Greenstreet said. Jonathan Saltzman,, 3 Aug. 2022 An ammunition depot caught fire near Russia’s border with Ukraine, a local official said, the latest in a series of incidents to afflict Moscow’s military facilities in recent weeks that could pressure supply lines to its forces. James Marson, WSJ, 28 Apr. 2022 Morrison’s backstory for Luda is a gothic kaleidoscope of the horrors that can afflict a child who doesn’t fit parental preconceptions. Noah Bertlatsky, Los Angeles Times, 2 Sep. 2022 Instead, we are given a few weeks to predict what disease or accident might afflict our family in the calendar year ahead. Nick Fuller Googins, Men's Health, 17 Aug. 2022 Given all that, perhaps the biggest revelation in her new autobiography, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman, is that this stellar high achiever was plagued by the same doubts and lack of confidence that afflict the rest of us. Howard Lee, Ars Technica, 2 July 2022 That pessimism is due to natural decline rates averaging around 10% a year that afflict mature oil fields. Christopher Helman, Forbes, 2 June 2022 His last article for the magazine was on long Covid, the mysterious set of ailments that afflict some people after Covid-19 infection. New York Times, 25 May 2022 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 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

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

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on afflict

Nglish: Translation of afflict for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afflict for Arabic Speakers


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