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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from molest

molestation \ ˌmō-​ˌles-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce molestation (audio) , ˌmä-​ , -​ləs-​ \ noun
molester \ mə-​ˈles-​tər 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

Now the 81-year-old once-revered comedian is set to be sentenced this week for drugging and molesting Constand, a former Temple University employee, in his Philadelphia home in 2004. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Bill Cosby found guilty of sexual assault: A look at the case," 25 Sep. 2018 For four years—before Hollywood came together under Time's Up and certainly before the current iteration of #MeToo—Dylan Farrow has publicly alleged that her adoptive father, Woody Allen, molested her as a child. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Dylan Farrow’s Response to a Columnist Who Defended Woody Allen Is a Must-Read," 11 Feb. 2018 Nienstedt resigned as archbishop after Minnesota prosecutors charged the Twin Cities archdiocese with failing to protect children from a predator priest who was later convicted of molesting two boys. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Vatican urged to reveal status of ousted US archbishop," 18 Dec. 2018 As in the Larry Nassar case, in which more than 150 women testified at a sentencing hearing for the former Michigan State doctor accused of molesting young gymnasts, the judge could allow Cosby’s dozens of accusers to testify in open court. NBC News, "Bill Cosby could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. But it's likely to be much less.," 27 Apr. 2018 Three years after his misdemeanor battery conviction, for example, Florida doctor Dhaliwal was acquitted of molesting another patient. Anna Beahm,, "Active shooter situation ongoing on Blount County," 14 Apr. 2018 If Icke can convince people that the world is run by a cabal of mostly Jewish lizard people who are molesting and murdering kids — well, who knows what his followers will do with that belief? Constance Grady, Vox, "The Alice Walker anti-Semitism controversy, explained," 20 Dec. 2018 No woman should be raped or molested or touched against her will. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "A Tale of Two Cities: A Snapshot of Washington D.C. On the Historic Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing Day," 27 Sep. 2018 The platform routinely serves videos espousing neo-Nazi propaganda, phony reports portraying dark-skinned people as violent savages and conspiracy theories claiming that large numbers of leading politicians and celebrities molested children. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Congress missed another chance to hold big tech accountable," 12 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about molest

Dictionary Entries near molest

mole shrew


mole snake





Statistics for molest

Last Updated

25 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for molest

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!