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

transitive verb

: besiege
a town beleaguered by an army
a beleaguered city
: trouble, harass
beleaguered parents
an economically beleaguered city
beleaguerment noun

Did you know?

Beleaguer comes from the Dutch word belegeren. Leger means "camp" and the prefix be- means "about" or "around." Belegeren, by definition, is a neutral verb ("to camp around"); however, beleaguer implies trouble. It is also synonymous with besiege.

Examples of beleaguer in a Sentence

the lack of funds that beleaguers schools beleaguered the castle for months
Recent Examples on the Web Many Minneapolis police officers saw the report as a searing indictment that deals yet another blow to a department beleaguered by low morale and a staffing shortage. Dan Simmons,, 17 June 2023 Officials on both sides gave figures that indicated about 16 people have died in connection with the flooding, which has added misery to the lives of Ukrainians beleaguered by the war. Jamey Keaten, USA TODAY, 9 June 2023 Meanwhile, Mono Lake, beleaguered by three years of drought, is expected to rise by several feet, a welcome reprieve as the lake has struggled to reach target levels. Evan Bush, NBC News, 6 June 2023 In a city beleaguered by gun violence, Jaylen was one of 100 middle school students honored Tuesday for writing about their experiences with violence at the 2023 Do The Write Thing challenge, an event co-chaired by Latham and Watkins and Communities in Schools of Chicago. Nell Salzman, Chicago Tribune, 12 May 2023 More than one of four state legislators also own multiple units or properties, putting them further out of step with constituents beleaguered by the cost and scarcity of homes. Matt Stout,, 21 Apr. 2023 On it, bursts of energy are beleaguered by sleep, and lullabylike passages are interspersed with wails of joy. Emma Madden, Vulture, 10 Apr. 2023 After Donald Trump made headlines once again last week, people online were shocked that beleaguered former President was still making waves three years after losing the 2020 election. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 6 Apr. 2023 Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit this week to a battered, beleaguered Vladimir Putin only highlighted its new role, as the Chinese leader publicly legitimized a Russian president who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes only last week. Alex Stamos, CNN, 23 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beleaguer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of beleaguer was in 1587


Dictionary Entries Near beleaguer

Cite this Entry

“Beleaguer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​lea·​guer bi-ˈlē-gər How to pronounce beleaguer (audio)
beleaguered; beleaguering -g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce beleaguer (audio)
: to surround with an army so as to prevent escape : besiege sense 1
: to subject to troublesome forces : harass
the pests that beleaguer farmers

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