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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from beleaguer

beleaguerment \ bi-​ˈlē-​gər-​mənt How to pronounce beleaguerment (audio) , bē-​ \ noun

Synonyms for beleaguer


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 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 Lagorio believes exposure in the Museum of Modern Art’s design store might make a difference for Italy’s beleaguered artisans. Anne Quito, Quartzy, "The MoMA Design Store is selling household goods from Italy," 17 Aug. 2019 The peninsula’s commuter rail system could be in for a windfall if efforts unveiled by Democratic state legislative leaders this week to redistribute money from the Central Valley’s beleaguered high-speed rail project succeed. Mercury News Staff, The Mercury News, "Latest line: Swalwell a winner, Kamala Harris a loser," 4 Aug. 2019 The primary users of Anchorage’s beleaguered port want city officials to delay the first major rehabilitation work at the port in years while port leaders continue to discover earthquake damage to critical infrastructure. Author: Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Discovery of more earthquake damage adds to troubles at Port of Alaska," 17 July 2019 Three physicists who have been collaborating in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past year have devised a new solution to a mystery that has beleaguered their field for more than 30 years. Quanta Magazine, "A New Theory to Explain the Higgs Mass," 27 May 2015 Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann struggled for a second consecutive start, allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings and the Tigers couldn’t mount a comeback against Baltimore’s beleaguered pitching staff. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "In matchup of historic losing, Detroit Tigers bested by Baltimore Orioles, 6-2," 4 Sep. 2019 The special consists almost entirely of rants and one-liners seemingly designed to support Chappelle’s beleaguered peers and provoke ire from those who have questioned them. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Dave Chappelle Doubles Down," 28 Aug. 2019 Prevent these beleaguering effects from occurring in the first place by drinking plenty of water and committing to an in-flight beauty regimen. Andrea Cheng, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Skin Care Routine For Your Next Flight: A Step-By-Step Guide," 30 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about beleaguer

Listen to Our Podcast about beleaguer

Statistics for beleaguer

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for beleaguer

The first known use of beleaguer was in 1587

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.)

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on beleaguer

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!