be·​lea·​guer | \ bi-ˈlē-gər How to pronounce beleaguer (audio) , bē- \
beleaguered; beleaguering\ bi-​ˈlē-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce beleaguer (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 beleaguer (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 American officials have felt an affinity for officials in Taipei for decades, a natural sense of solidarity with a democratic government beleaguered by a communist regime. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "New China cold war: US overtures to Taiwan escalate tension with Beijing," 22 May 2020 Many Indians obeyed the rules, wary of catching the virus and not trusting India’s beleaguered health care system to save them. New York Times, "As India Loosens Its Strict Lockdown, Coronavirus Deaths Jump Sharply," 6 May 2020 The program aims to compensate for service cuts in San Francisco’s mass transit systems, while providing a boost for the city’s beleaguered taxi industry. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: April 27-28," 29 Apr. 2020 The disease also threatens the fragile political turmoil that has beleaguered the country for almost six years. Fox News, "Coronavirus hits desperate Venezuela's already broken health care system," 20 Mar. 2020 The flat $600 federal payout was a recognition from Congress that state unemployment systems were going to be beleaguered with millions of new unemployment claims — including many from people who traditionally don’t qualify, such as gig workers. Los Angeles Times, "Quirk in coronavirus relief law gives full $600 a week even to workers facing only cut hours," 27 Apr. 2020 Maryland Annapolis: Four additional residents at a nursing home beleaguered by more than 100 positive cases of COVID-19 have died, local health officials announced. USA TODAY, "Changes at churches, ‘flex facilities,’ learning by TV: News from around our 50 states," 6 Apr. 2020 The response has drawn praise for Big Tech companies, who have long been beleaguered by criticism about privacy violations, harassment and misinformation on their platforms, and other problems. Erin Brodwin, STAT, "Tech companies are stepping up in the coronavirus pandemic response. Here’s how they’re dedicating resources," 1 Apr. 2020 Not long before, a police van had run over a Colo-Colo fan but a judge had freed its driver, leading to deadly riots nationwide (with four more dead and hundreds of police stations beleaguered by picketers). Ariel Dorfman, The New York Review of Books, "Chile: Notes from a Revolt," 13 Mar. 2020

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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Cite this Entry

“Beleaguer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of beleaguer

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

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