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hec·​tor ˈhek-tər How to pronounce hector (audio)
capitalized : a son of Priam, husband of Andromache, and Trojan champion slain by Achilles


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hectored; hectoring ˈhek-t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce hector (audio)

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
hectoringly adverb

Did you know?

In Homer's Iliad, Hector, 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. So how did his name become a verb meaning "to intimidate or harrass"? That 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 swaggering bullies who intimidated passersby and vandalized property.

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

Examples of hector in a Sentence

Noun law penalizing debt collection agencies that operate like hectors Verb The judge ordered the attorney to stop hectoring the witness. the judge warned the attorney that hectoring the witness with aggressive questioning would not be allowed
Recent Examples on the Web
Photo: hector retamal/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Seven hours into the march, Mrs. Lam apologized to the Hong Kong people for mishandling the bill. Wenxin Fan, WSJ, 16 June 2019 Mr. Liggett sometimes used his art to hector neighbors in a score of grievances. Donald Frazier, Washington Post, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 4 June 2017
Rejecting moralistic hectoring in favor of democratic patriotism, Israel’s protest movement appeals to a people’s sense of what their country can and should be. Susie Linfield, The Atlantic, 14 Aug. 2023 The messages varied in tone—hectoring, aggressive, snide, pathetic, lovesick. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, 12 June 2023 The scene then switches to a little girl (Arghavan Sabani) barely tolerating a cajoling, hectoring saleswoman’s patter as she’s fitted for her school uniform: a child-sized abaya and veil, which swallows up her Mickey Mouse T-shirt and sparkly pink headphones. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 8 June 2023 Trump administration officials hectored the agency’s leaders, rewrote its guidance and meddled with its research reports, undermining the morale of scientists even as the crisis ballooned. Noah Weiland, New York Times, 5 May 2023 Another is verbal, consisting of a notably didactic and hectoring wall text. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 3 May 2023 Tirien Steinbach, the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) dean who delivered the viral six-minute lecture hectoring Judge Duncan for his temerity to try to speak while conservative, is now on some kind of administrative leave. Daniel Foster, National Review, 13 Apr. 2023 While federal investigators believed that Airman Teixeira could pose a danger to agents conducting the search, his online friends knew him as a sometimes hectoring leader of their small community. Malachy Browne, New York Times, 13 Apr. 2023 Horror stories of users being mercilessly hectored and doxxed — where identifying information like physical addresses is published on the internet, usually maliciously — are far too common. Jake Novak, CNN, 8 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Noun and Verb

Latin, from Greek Hektōr

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1660, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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


Dictionary Entries Near hector

Cite this Entry

“Hector.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hector. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hectored; hectoring
: to act like a bully : swagger
: to frighten by threatening or bullying

More from Merriam-Webster on hector

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