mo·​lest | \mə-ˈlest \
molested; molesting; molests

Definition of molest 

transitive verb

1 : to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect The zookeeper warned the visitors not to molest the animals.

2 : to make annoying sexual advances to especially : to force physical and usually sexual contact on He was sent to prison for molesting children.

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Other Words from molest

molestation \ ˌmō-​ˌles-​ˈtā-​shən , ˌmä-​, -​ləs-​ \ noun
molester \ mə-​ˈles-​tər \ noun

Examples of molest in a Sentence

He was sent to jail for molesting children. It was illegal to molest, capture, or kill any of the animals in the park.

Recent Examples on the Web

More than 300 priests in Pennsylvania were accused of molesting more than 1,000 children over decades, in an August grand-jury report that triggered investigations in other states, as well as by the Justice Department. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "Pope Francis’ Handling of Sex-Abuse Cases Fractures a Catholic Stronghold," 19 Oct. 2018 In early August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,400-page report accusing hundreds of priests in that state of molesting at least 1,000 children. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Pope Francis to meet with top US cardinals over DC archbishop’s legacy of sex abuse allegations," 12 Sep. 2018 In Michigan, Nassar was sentenced earlier this year to decades in prison, after hundreds of women and girls accused him of molesting them with his hands under the guise of medical treatment. Washington Post, "Nassar, trainer charged with sex assault; Karolyis cleared," 29 June 2018 One of the major stories of this month’s MLB draft was made of Luke Heimlich, an Oregon State pitcher who had been convicted, back in 2012, of molesting his 6-year-old female relative. Will Leitch, Daily Intelligencer, "The Sports World Needs Its #MeToo Moment," 27 June 2018 The Royals are exploring the possibility of trying to sign Heimlich, who as a 15-year-old in 2012 pleaded guilty to a felony charge of molesting his 6-year-old niece. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Fans, national media rebuke Royals for potential interest in signing Luke Heimlich," 27 June 2018 The information already out there paints a simple picture: Heimlich is guilty of molesting his niece and admitted as such in a court of law. Jon Tayler,, "There Is No Moral Justification for the Royals or Any Team to Sign Luke Heimlich," 26 June 2018 Court records indicate that Campbell-Halley was previously suspected of molesting a 4-year-old at his prior job, but no charges were filed. Travis Andersen,, "Milford teacher, 40, allegedly exposed himself to teen Walmart worker in store bathroom," 24 May 2018 One month before Brazil hosted the Olympic Games, the Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation removed him as a national coach after he was accused of molesting two boys. Marina Lopes,, "Echoing Team USA, Brazilian gymnasts speak out about abuse," 5 May 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for molest

Middle English, from Anglo-French molester, from Latin molestare, from molestus burdensome, annoying; akin to Latin moles mass

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Dictionary Entries near molest

mole shrew


mole snake





Statistics for molest

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for molest

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

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English Language Learners Definition of molest

: to harm (someone) through sexual contact : to touch (someone) in a sexual and improper way

: to bother or annoy (someone or something)


mo·​lest | \mə-ˈlest \
molested; molesting

Kids Definition of molest

: to disturb or injure by interfering

mo·​lest | \mə-ˈlest \

Legal Definition of molest 

1 : to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect

2 : to make annoying sexual advances to specifically : to force physical and usually sexual contact on (as a child)

Other Words from molest

molestation \ ˌmō-​ˌles-​ˈtā-​shən, ˌmä-​, -​ləs-​ \ noun
molester noun

More from Merriam-Webster on molest

Spanish Central: Translation of molest

Nglish: Translation of molest for Spanish Speakers

Comments on molest

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


a private place of worship

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