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


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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 Transit officials say the 4% increase represents a turnaround in public opinion of Metro, beleaguered by slumping ridership driven by a yearslong safety overhaul and reliability issues. USA TODAY, "Condom conflict, ghost net, smart trash bins: News from around our 50 states," 18 Jan. 2020 North Carolina State 90, Notre Dame 56: Elissa Cunane recorded her ninth double-double of the season as hot-shooting North Carolina State beat beleaguered Notre Dame. Staff Reports, Indianapolis Star, "State college basketball: IU women suffer first Big Ten loss," 12 Jan. 2020 Police fired tear gas and made several arrests, and the city’s beleaguered subway operator closed more than two dozen stations., "HONG KONG — A police officer was stabbed in Hong Kong on Sunday, police officials said, in what appeared to be an escalation of the street violence that has gripped the city for months, as flash-mob gatherings unfolded across town.," 14 Oct. 2019 Houston’s beleaguered offensive line didn’t allow a sack on Sunday after giving up 18 through the first four games. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tucker’s OT field goal lifts Ravens over Steelers," 6 Oct. 2019 Beijing has thrown its backing behind Hong Kong’s beleaguered administration in its efforts to contain the unrest. Time Staff, Time, "Conservative Politician Stabbed in Hong Kong as City Gears Up for Tense Elections," 6 Nov. 2019 The show also explores what’s next for Florida’s beleaguered guardianship program. Hal Boedeker,, "Marco Rubio, Michael Waltz talk impeachment," 9 Oct. 2019 Russia’s beleaguered space science program is hoping for a rare triumph this month. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Update: Telescope designed to study mysterious dark energy keeps Russia’s space science hopes alive," 15 July 2019 Fitzpatrick did just that Sunday, inspiring a winless and beleaguered Miami team to its best offensive performance of the season. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Fitzpatrick provides spark in Dolphins’ 31-21 loss to Bills," 20 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for beleaguer

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The first known use of beleaguer was in 1587

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Beleaguer.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for beleaguer


How to pronounce beleaguer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of beleaguer

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

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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