mo·​lest | \ mə-ˈlest How to pronounce molest (audio) \
molested; molesting; molests

Definition of molest

transitive verb

1 : to make unwanted or improper sexual advances towards (someone) especially : to force physical and usually sexual contact on (someone) He was sent to prison for molesting children.
2 somewhat old-fashioned : to annoy, disturb, or persecute (a person or animal) especially with hostile intent or injurious effect Who doth molest my contemplation?— Shakespeare Bees flew past him, bees flew into him, bees settled upon his coat, bees paused questioningly in front of him … but not a single bee molested him.— P. G. Wodehouse At a hearing last week, activists persuaded the commission that the porcupines were being chased, molested and "worried" for human amusement.— Kelli Anderson

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Other Words from molest

molestation \ ˌmō-​ˌle-​ˈstā-​shən How to pronounce molestation (audio) , ˌmä-​ , -​lə-​ \ noun
molester \ mə-​ˈle-​stər How to pronounce molester (audio) \ 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 People abused as children are more likely to experience depression and drug abuse and to molest their own kids. USA Today, "Foster kids lived with molesters. No one told their parents.," 16 Oct. 2020 And in other forms, child abuse has become ritualized: One practice, in which powerful men molest young boys and force them to dress and dance in girls’ clothing, is widely known as bacha bazi, or boy play. David Zucchino, New York Times, "An Afghan Boy’s Rape and Death Prompt a Rare Response: Arrests," 9 Oct. 2020 Did the policy allow coaches to escape allegations, continue working in the sport, and then go on to molest other gymnasts? Tim Evans, The Indianapolis Star, "'Athlete A' tells part of the Larry Nassar investigation. This is the story you didn't see," 24 June 2020 The organization has filed for bankruptcy and offered $217 million to settle legal claims brought by athletes molested by Nassar, who in 2018 received prison sentences of up to 175 years. Danielle Allentuck, New York Times, "Maggie Haney, Elite Gymnastics Coach, Is Suspended for 8 Years," 30 Apr. 2020 The tweets have since been deleted but contained racial slurs and claims the actor was molested on the set of the Netflix show, whose season 4 production has been put on hold due to coronavirus. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Joe Keery’s Twitter Was Hacked With “Deeply Upsetting” Comments," 21 Apr. 2020 The lawsuit alleges, among other counts, that the diocese’s negligence enabled Pinal to molest Torres and that the diocese failed to report the abuse to relevant authorities. Katie Zavadski, ProPublica, "Dozens of Catholic Priests Credibly Accused of Abuse Found Work Abroad, Some With the Church’s Blessing," 14 Mar. 2020 An attorney representing hundreds of men molested by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago said on Tuesday that victims will be 'deprived' of justice with the bankruptcy filing by the Boy Scouts of America. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Did the Boy Scouts violate their own honor code by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy?," 20 Feb. 2020 Michael Jackson, winsome Prince of Pop, had money, power and fame — and, according to Dan Reed’s four-hour film, a cold willingness to use them as tools to molest young boys. Tom Gliatto,, "The 10 Best TV Shows of the Year, According to PEOPLE’s Critic: Fleabag, The Crown and More!," 12 Dec. 2019

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 2

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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Time Traveler for molest

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for molest

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Molest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for molest


How to pronounce molest (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of molest

: to harm (someone) through sexual contact : to touch (someone) in a sexual and improper way
old-fashioned : to bother or annoy (someone or something)


mo·​lest | \ mə-ˈlest How to pronounce molest (audio) \
molested; molesting

Kids Definition of molest

: to disturb or injure by interfering
mo·​lest | \ mə-ˈlest How to pronounce molest (audio) \

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-​ How to pronounce molestation (audio) \ noun
molester noun

More from Merriam-Webster on molest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for molest

Nglish: Translation of molest for Spanish Speakers

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