im·​por·​tune | \ ˌim-pər-ˈtün How to pronounce importune (audio) , -ˈtyün; im-ˈpȯr-ˌt(y)ün, -chən \
importuned; importuning; importunes

Definition of importune

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to press or urge with troublesome persistence
b archaic : to request or beg for urgently
2 : annoy, trouble

intransitive verb

: to beg, urge, or solicit persistently or troublesomely



Definition of importune (Entry 2 of 2)

Other Words from importune


importuner noun


importunely adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for importune


beg, entreat, beseech, implore, supplicate, adjure, importune mean to ask urgently. beg suggests earnestness or insistence in the asking. they begged for help entreat implies an effort to persuade or to overcome resistance. entreated me to join them beseech and implore imply a deeply felt anxiety. I beseech you to have mercy implored her not to leave him supplicate suggests a posture of humility. with bowed heads they supplicated their Lord adjure implies advising as well as pleading. we were adjured to tell the truth importune suggests an annoying persistence in trying to break down resistance to a request. importuning viewers for contributions

Did you know?

Importune has many synonyms—including beg, entreat, beseech, and implore. Beg suggests earnestness or insistence especially in asking for a favor ("the children begged to stay up late"). Entreat implies an effort to persuade or to overcome resistance ("she entreated him to change his mind"). Beseech implies great eagerness or anxiety ("I beseech you to have mercy"), and implore adds to beseech a suggestion of greater urgency or anguished appeal ("he implored her not to leave him"). But it is importune that best conveys irritating doggedness in trying to break down resistance to a request and the accompanying annoyance ("the filmmakers were importuning viewers for contributions"), as it has since Middle English speakers adopted it from Anglo-French.

Examples of importune in a Sentence

Verb He stood on the street corner, importuning passersby for help. He importuned them to help.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This may be in part because those whose first overtures were ignored conclude that the widow wants to be left alone, and thus cease to importune her. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2022 Stewart Dickerson, 64, is charged with importuning and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, according to jail records. Madeline Mitchell,, 28 Feb. 2020 In exchange for his guilty plea, Cuyahoga County prosecutors dropped charges of importuning and possessing criminal tools. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 26 Feb. 2020 He is charged with importuning, a fifth-degree felony, court records say. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, 4 Feb. 2020 Instead, Potter senior has to importune a surly centaur. Jason Kehe, Wired, 11 Dec. 2019 Shawn Folsom, 41, is charged with one count of importuning, a felony in the fifth degree, police said in a release. Madeline Mitchell,, 16 Nov. 2019 Investigators also discovered that Watson had an arrest for importuning in 1997 that was never prosecuted. Rachel Dissell, cleveland, 13 Oct. 2019 There were reportedly other calls in which Trump importuned the Ukrainians this way. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 27 Sep. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'importune.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of importune


1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for importune


borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French importuner "to tire, annoy by inappropriate persistence," borrowed from Medieval Latin importūnāre "to harass, pester," verbal derivative of Latin importūnus "unfavorable, inconvenient, adverse, troublesome, relentless" — more at importune entry 2


Middle English, "persistent, overeager, fierce, cruel, grievous, troublesome," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, "persistently troublesome," borrowed from Latin importūnus "not suited to one's purpose, unfavorable, inconvenient, adverse, unaccommodating, troublesome, relentless," probably from im- im- + -portūnus (in opportūnus "favoring one's needs, serviceable, convenient") — more at opportune

Note: The Latin adjective importūnus appears to have been formed as a negative counterpart to opportūnus.

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The first known use of importune was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

25 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Importune.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for importune


im·​por·​tune | \ ˌim-pər-ˈtün How to pronounce importune (audio) , -ˈtyün \
importuned; importuning

Kids Definition of importune

: to beg or urge in a repeated or annoying way Salesmen importuned us to buy.


im·​por·​tune | \ ˌim-pȯr-ˈtün, -ˈtyün; im-ˈpȯr-ˌtyün, -chən \
importuned; importuning

Legal Definition of importune

transitive verb

: to press or urge with troublesome persistence who solicits, requests, commands, importunes or intentionally aids another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offenseGeneral Statutes of Connecticut

intransitive verb

: to beg, urge, or press another persistently or troublesomely — compare coerce, solicit

More from Merriam-Webster on importune

Nglish: Translation of importune for Spanish Speakers


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