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

In 2004, Constand alleged that Cosby drugged and molested her during an incident at his home. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Bill Cosby spent decades as “America’s Dad.” He’s about to be sentenced for a 2004 assault.," 24 Sep. 2018 In May, all of Chile’s 30-plus active bishops offered to quit over their collective guilt in failing to protect Chile’s children from priests who raped, groped and molested them. Washington Post, "Chilean police raid Catholic Church offices amid abuse probe," 13 June 2018 More than 60 women have accused Cosby of drugging and molesting them over five decades. CBS News, "Cosby accuser Andrea Constand: "I did it for justice"," 2 June 2018 The statute of limitations had expired for all except one: Andrea Constand, who accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her at his Pennsylvania home in 2004. NBC News, "Bill Cosby conviction is the first big win of the #MeToo movement," 26 Apr. 2018 The five witnesses are in addition to Andrea Constand, the central accuser in the case who alleges that Cosby drugged and molested her at his home in Cheltenham in 2004. Laura Mccrystal,, "These are the new women set to testify at Bill Cosby's trial," 2 Apr. 2018 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

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

2 Dec 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

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a nest or breeding place

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