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


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

The gambit provoked one of Hong Kong’s largest protests in decades while also revitalizing the territory’s beleaguered pro-democracy opposition. Daniel Victor, New York Times, "The Murder Case That Lit the Fuse in Hong Kong," 15 June 2019 Old plans for space fell through The school district acquired the building in a land swap in 2017 as the Arizona Challenger Space Center was long beleaguered by financial troubles. Joshua Bowling, azcentral, "Arizona Challenger Space Center to get new life in 2020. But where did the museum land?," 14 June 2019 Ortiz’s criticism has beleaguered the theory ever since the late Danish physicist Per Bak proposed it in 1992. Jennifer Ouellette, Quanta Magazine, "Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point," 14 June 2018 Both developments have unfolded since Memorial Day, injecting Helton’s beleaguered tenure with unexpected momentum. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "USC football: Recruiting advantages like no other program, anywhere," 5 June 2019 His ninth-inning homer off Matt Grace capped an 11-run barrage for the Cubs against the Nationals’ beleaguered bullpen. Greg Swatek, The Seattle Times, "Bryant hits 3 HRs as Cubs punish Nats’ bullpen in 14-6 win," 18 May 2019 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

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

10 Jul 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



English Language Learners Definition of beleaguer

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

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