beleaguer

verb
be·​lea·​guer | \ bi-ˈlē-gər How to pronounce beleaguer (audio) , bē-\
beleaguered; beleaguering\ bi-​ˈlē-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce beleaguering (audio) , bē-​ \

Definition of beleaguer

transitive verb

1 : besiege a town beleaguered by an army a beleaguered city
2 : trouble, harass beleaguered parents an economically beleaguered city

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Other Words from beleaguer

beleaguerment \ bi-​ˈlē-​gər-​mənt How to pronounce beleaguerment (audio) , bē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for beleaguer

Synonyms

besiege, blockade, invest, leaguer [archaic]

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Did You Know?

English speakers created "beleaguer" from the Dutch word belegeren in the 16th century. "[Military men] will not vouchsafe . . . to use our ancient terms belonging to matters of war, but do call a camp by the Dutch name," commented the English soldier and diplomat Sir John Smyth in 1590. The word for "camp" that he was referring to is "leaguer." That term in turn comes from Dutch "leger," which is one of the building blocks of "belegeren" (literally, "to camp around"). But neither "leaguer" nor "beleaguer" were in fact utterly foreign. Old English "leger," the source of our modern "lair," is related to the Dutch word. And the Old English "be-" ("about, around"), as seen in "besiege" and "beset," is related to the Dutch prefix be- in "belegeren."

Examples of beleaguer in a Sentence

the lack of funds that beleaguers schools beleaguered the castle for months

Recent Examples on the Web

But most of the rest of the new budget is what Italy’s beleaguered economy doesn’t need. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Italian Budget Fudge," 20 Dec. 2018 The harshest criticism came from two candidates with deep ties to the city’s beleaguered police department: former police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot. Terace Garnier, Fox News, "Tipping Point? Heat’s on Rahm in re-election race after bloody Chicago weekend," 7 Aug. 2018 His death sent shock waves through Russia’s beleaguered opposition. Washington Post, "Thousands march in memory of slain Russian opposition leader," 25 Feb. 2018 The Saudis’ marquee investment conference this week has been beleaguered after the brutal killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Why Silicon Valley investors just can’t quit Saudi money," 25 Oct. 2018 There's also no one-liner that adequately captures the feeling of being simultaneously captive and adrift, an existence beleaguered by a long list of instructions to follow but no discernible end in sight. Elissa Strauss, Glamour, "This Netflix Movie Perfectly Pinpoints What's So Maddening About IVF," 11 Oct. 2018 Work began on the Vostochny Cosmodrome in 2011, but the project has been beleaguered by financial problems, corruption scandals, technical difficulties, and even a strike. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Lots of losers in small launch, Air Force award, Red (Bull) Mars," 7 Sep. 2018 During that time, Ma learned about the work of Pfleger, a South Side pastor who has fought against the poverty, drugs and gun violence which have beleaguered the South and West sides for decades. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "Second ‘Concert for Peace’ brings Yo-Yo Ma back ‘home' to the South Side," 11 June 2018 Far from the initial fighting was the Catholic church, a supposedly safe place for triage, and beleaguered and wounded students were arriving from the front lines by pickup truck, by motorbike, and on foot. Joshua Partlow, chicagotribune.com, "Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beleaguer.' 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 beleaguer

1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for beleaguer

Dutch belegeren, from be- (akin to Old English be-) + leger camp; akin to Old High German legar bed — more at lair

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Statistics for beleaguer

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for beleaguer

The first known use of beleaguer was in 1587

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More Definitions for beleaguer

beleaguer

verb

English Language Learners Definition of beleaguer

formal : to cause constant or repeated trouble for (a person, business, etc.)

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