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

Four years after Berkebile says she was molested, another patient, 3-year-old Kelsey Bowman, had an appointment with Barto. Michael Rubinkam, The Seattle Times, "AP Exclusive: Regulators OK’d child doc charged with abuse," 31 Oct. 2018 Among those who have said they were molested by Nassar at the ranch and at other locations under the guise of medical care are Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Walker County officials, Texas Rangers to discuss Karolyi Ranch investigation at press conference," 28 June 2018 And according to the Washington Post article, the group provides counseling and other support for former scouts who say they were molested. Karla Peterson,, "Why girls do not need the Boy Scouts," 9 May 2018 Two women who say they were molested by a Charlotte physician have been awarded more than $2 million by a Mecklenburg jury. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "Doctor tied to sex crimes says accusers suffer from ‘#metoo syndrome.’ Jury awards $2.2m," 14 Feb. 2018 The vote came just hours after Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina finished hearing from more than 150 girls and women over the last week, who said they were molested by Nassar over the last 20 years. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan House approves resolution calling on Lou Anna Simon to resign or be fired," 24 Jan. 2018 The documentary is intended to showcase the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who Jackson befriended as children, and who claim to have been molested by him. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Michael Jackson's Defenders Remind Us to Also Believe Men," 13 Mar. 2019 Teams may also prefer to avoid a person who denies a heinous action and, by extension, implies that his victim—a six-year-old child at the time she was molested—is lying. Jon Tayler,, "There Is No Moral Justification for the Royals or Any Team to Sign Luke Heimlich," 26 June 2018 In this dark comedy, Zoey Deutch plays a 17-year-old whirl of defiance named Erica who heads down a darker path when the addled son of her mom's new boyfriend moves in and tells her a high school teacher (Adam Scott) molested him. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New movies: 'A Quiet Place,' John Cena's 'Blockers,' Latin film festivals and more," 5 Apr. 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

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for molest

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

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More Definitions for molest



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

Spanish Central: Translation of molest

Nglish: Translation of molest for Spanish Speakers

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to move or proceed with twists and turns

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