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

But clearly many of those one-run losses are the result of teams rallying vs. Colorado’s beleaguered bullpen. Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "Rockies Mailbag: Bud Black can only work with the pitchers he has. Will it be enough in 2020?," 28 Aug. 2019 The agency, which runs nine low-income housing facilities in South Bend and is financed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been beleaguered by complaints of financial mismanagement for much of the decade. Neil Vigdor,, "FBI agents raid South Bend Housing Authority offices," 1 Aug. 2019 The agency, which runs nine low-income housing facilities in South Bend and is financed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been beleaguered by complaints of financial mismanagement for much of the decade. Neil Vigdor, New York Times, "F.B.I. Agents Raid South Bend Housing Authority Offices," 31 July 2019 The Anchorage Assembly has approved funding to start a total rebuild to the docks at the city’s beleaguered port a decade after construction problems halted prior efforts to upgrade the essential infrastructure. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage Assembly approves $42 million contract for first new dock at Port of Alaska," 1 Aug. 2019 At a curving white performing-arts center, in downtown Miami, the Democratic National Committee’s beleaguered chairman, Tom Perez, spoke to the crowd before the cameras came on. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "At the Democratic Debate, Elizabeth Warren’s Reformism Versus Trump’s Moral Crisis," 27 June 2019 Observers called the final outcome a triumph for Turkey’s democracy, which has been increasingly beleaguered in recent years under Erdogan. Laura King,, "How will Turkey’s authoritarian president react to opposition’s big win in Istanbul mayoral race?," 24 June 2019 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

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

4 Sep 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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recurring in steady succession

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