hec·​tor | \ˈhek-tər \

Definition of hector 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 capitalized : a son of Priam, husband of Andromache, and Trojan champion slain by Achilles


hectored; hectoring\ ˈhek-​t(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of hector (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to behave in an arrogant or intimidating way : to play the bully : swagger

transitive verb

: to intimidate or harass by bluster or personal pressure football players being hectored by their coach

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Other Words from hector


hectoringly \ ˈhek-​t(ə-​)riŋ-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for hector


bait, badger, heckle, hector, chivy, hound mean to harass by efforts to break down. bait implies wanton cruelty or delight in persecuting a helpless victim. baited the chained dog badger implies pestering so as to drive a person to confusion or frenzy. badgered her father for a car heckle implies persistent annoying or belligerent interruptions of a speaker. drunks heckled the stand-up comic hector carries an implication of bullying and domineering. football players hectored by their coach chivy suggests persecution by teasing or nagging. chivied the new student mercilessly hound implies unrelenting pursuit and harassing. hounded by creditors

Did You Know?


Hector wasn't always a bully. In Homer's Iliad, the eldest son of King Priam of Troy was a model soldier, son, father, and friend, the champion of the Trojan army until he was killed by the Greek hero Achilles. How did the name of a Trojan paragon become a generic synonym of bully? That pejorative English use was likely influenced by gangs of rowdy street toughs who roamed London in the 17th century and called themselves "Hectors." They may have thought themselves gallant young blades, but to the general populace they were merely swaggering bullies who intimidated passersby and vandalized property. By 1660, hector was being used as a noun for the sort of blustering braggarts who populated those gangs, and as a verb as well.

Examples of hector in a Sentence


a small-town hector with no job and lots of time on his hands


The judge ordered the attorney to stop hectoring the witness. the children used to constantly hector the poor dog, and now he growls at everybody
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mr. Liggett sometimes used his art to hector neighbors in a score of grievances. Donald Frazier, Washington Post, "M.T. Liggett, who lined a highway with politically provocative art, dies at 86," 26 Aug. 2017 THE young woman with the microphone cajoles, hectors and wheedles customers with the breathless enthusiasm of a livestock auctioneer at a county fair. The Economist, "More money, less freedomSouth-East Asia’s future looks prosperous but illiberal," 18 July 2017 Trump’s proposals to match China’s import fees and to hector companies into keeping jobs in the United States represent a huge threat to the mercantilist Asian economic model. Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register, "The end of the Asian era," 2 Apr. 2017 Schwarzenegger liked to hector state residents on global warming and green energy, and brag about his commitment to wind and solar power. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: In California, leaders don’t sweat the big stuff," 9 Mar. 2017 Like Chaffetz, the South Carolina congressman used his position in the House to investigate and hector Hillary Clinton throughout her time as a presidential candidate. OregonLive.com, "The anti-impeachment crowd: Donald Trump's 20 greatest enablers (Commentary)," 30 June 2017 Regardless, that scene between Matt and Nora was one of the most moving the show has offered, with Nora grateful for Matt’s company and lack of judgment, and Matt determined to just be there for her, and not hector or sermonize. Spencer Kornhaber And Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Leftovers: A Nicer Story," 4 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In a turnabout, the State Council, China’s cabinet, stopped hectoring city halls and townships to restrain spending and instead last week launched an inspection to urge them to speed up already approved investment projects to re-energize growth. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Mnuchin is in denial about the pain Trump's tariffs are inducing," 13 July 2018 In a turnabout, the State Council, China’s cabinet, stopped hectoring city halls and townships to restrain spending and instead last week launched an inspection to urge them to speed up already approved investment projects to re-energize growth. Lingling Wei, WSJ, "China’s Effort to Control Debt Loses Steam," 12 July 2018 Like juju, the style popularized by King Sunny Adé, fuji was originally built upon an embarrassment of pulsing polyrhythms shaped on kit drums, congas, bells, shakers, and talking drums, without much else beyond hectoring call-and-response singing. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Acclaimed master of Nigerian fuji music King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal comes to Square Roots Festival," 5 July 2018 When Trump left, the cadre held up signs, waved pictures and hectored him over the child separation policy. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Immigration fight is no picnic: Reps brawl, Dems jeer and cops search for Trump-accosting intern," 21 June 2018 Wolf’s third level here was a nasty jab, likening Huckabee Sanders to the homophobic cliché of the female softball coach: a mannish, hectoring bully. Rhonda Garelick, The Cut, "It’s Okay to Be Offended by Michelle Wolf’s Jokes," 30 Apr. 2018 Kids find sad things hilarious (laughing when Charlotte dies after spinning another web) and humor to be frightening (cowering at Seuss’s hectoring goldfish). Rumaan Alam, The Cut, "The Singular Magic of Maira Kalman," 30 Apr. 2018 His parents hectored Colorado lawmakers and filed complaints with both the hospital and various state agencies. Shefali Luthra, Washington Post, "When Credit Scores Become Casualties Of Health Care," 9 May 2018 He was brought down, in part, by his inability to resist hectoring others on how to behave. Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, "How Cosby's 'Pound Cake Speech' Helped Lead to His Downfall," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hector.' 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 hector


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1660, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for hector


Latin, from Greek Hektōr


see hector entry 1

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The first known use of hector was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of hector

: to criticize or question (someone) in a threatening way

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Comments on hector

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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