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 molest (audio) , ˌmä-​ , -​lə-​ \ noun
molester \ mə-​ˈle-​stər How to pronounce molest (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 Interviewed by Chinese and US law enforcement, Orjuela confessed to having molested one of the twins and attempting to molest the other. James Griffiths, CNN, 4 June 2021 At the time, Carrillo had accused the children’s father of participating in a pedophile ring in Porterville and allowing someone to molest one of their daughters, according to Denton’s account in court records and interviews. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2021 Yet in multiple cases involving younger children, safety plans allegedly failed or were never adopted, allowing children to molest other foster kids. USA Today, 18 Mar. 2021 One of those is Mark Lambour, a former St. Frances Cabrini altar boy who said deWater tried to molest him in the sacristy of the church in 1972, about three years before the incident now being investigated by the archdiocese. David A. Hammer,, 8 Jan. 2021 People abused as children are more likely to experience depression and drug abuse and to molest their own kids. USA Today, 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, 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, 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, 30 Apr. 2020

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

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Molest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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 molest (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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