de·​sist di-ˈsist How to pronounce desist (audio) -ˈzist How to pronounce desist (audio)
desisted; desisting; desists

intransitive verb

: to cease to proceed or act
a court order to desist from selling the product
desistance noun
Choose the Right Synonym for desist

stop, cease, quit, discontinue, desist mean to suspend or cause to suspend activity.

stop applies to action or progress or to what is operating or progressing and may imply suddenness or definiteness.

stopped at the red light

cease applies to states, conditions, or existence and may add a suggestion of gradualness and a degree of finality.

by nightfall the fighting had ceased

quit may stress either finality or abruptness in stopping or ceasing.

the engine faltered, sputtered, then quit altogether

discontinue applies to the stopping of an accustomed activity or practice.

we have discontinued the manufacture of that item

desist implies forbearance or restraint as a motive for stopping or ceasing.

desisted from further efforts to persuade them

Examples of desist in a Sentence

Despite orders from the police, the protesters would not desist.
Recent Examples on the Web The Hungarian leader also blocked the EU’s €50 billion ($54.4 billion) aid package for Ukraine at a summit last month, forcing another gathering of its 27 premiers in Brussels next week to either convince Orban to desist or to circumvent him. Zoltan Simon,, 24 Jan. 2024 In the study, Littman and colleagues interviewed 78 Americans who previously identified as transgender but desisted in that identity. Ian Kingsbury, National Review, 9 Jan. 2024 That Israel desist from the removal and resettlement of Palestine refugees in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 and from the destruction of their shelters. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 12 Dec. 2023 Tonatiuh Guillén, a former head of Mexico’s immigration agency, said the new system could succeed in persuading migrants to desist from the trip to the U.S. border. Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, 13 May 2023 The annual winter spike in pollution in Delhi and its neighborhood can be reduced if farmers of nearby states are paid to desist from burning farm stubble, a new study suggests. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, 6 Dec. 2022 The Commission will investigate the complaint and may order the employer to desist from further violations, take remedial actions as necessary, and includes civil penalties of up to $5,000. Alonzo Martinez, Forbes, 5 May 2023 In fall 2021, the National Institute of Justice held an online symposium to announce a new volume on the study of people who desist from crime. Michael Schulson/undark, Popular Science, 29 Jan. 2023 Speaking from the funeral of victims of the attack carried out by Islamic State in the city of Shiraz on Wednesday, Hossein Salami called on Iranian young people specifically to desist from protesting. Niamh Kennedy, CNN, 29 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English desisten, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French desister, desistier, borrowed from Latin dēsistere "to leave off, cease," from dē- de- + sistere "to cause to stand, assume a standing position, place, check, halt" — more at assist entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of desist was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near desist

Cite this Entry

“Desist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​sist di-ˈsist How to pronounce desist (audio) -ˈzist How to pronounce desist (audio)
: to stop something one is doing

More from Merriam-Webster on desist

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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