per·​se·​cu·​tion | \ ˌpər-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce persecution (audio) \

Definition of persecution

1 : the act or practice of persecuting especially those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook
2 : the condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed

Examples of persecution in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But critics say the Vogue coverage fails to highlight some Saudi women whose activism helped draw international attention to the issue, and who now face persecution. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Vogue Arabia Puts Princess in Driver’s Seat, With Not a Word About Jailed Activists," 31 May 2018 Some of the migrants are transgender people who faced persecution in Honduras. Holly Yan, CNN, "These are the horrid conditions caravan migrants are fleeing," 30 Apr. 2018 Immigration judges must be shown evidence that asylum seekers would face government persecution in their home country because of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or their membership in a social group. Rick Montgomery, kansascity, "She fled war-torn El Salvador and now fears being forced to return, to possible death," 24 Jan. 2018 But despite the roundups of Jews and the anti-Semitic persecutions throughout France, the newlyweds remained, departing instead for the south and settling in Cannes. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Tragic, Fascinating History of Santo Sospir," 13 Aug. 2018 The move comes as thousands of migrants from Central America are currently walking together toward the U.S.-Mexico border, many fleeing persecution, poverty, and violence in their home countries. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "The Trump Administration Is Accused of Sending Troops to the Border as a Publicity Stunt," 20 Nov. 2018 That campaign helped fuel violent persecution that led to thousands of Rohingya deaths. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a “positive force”," 21 Nov. 2018 Once vibrant minority groups that numbered in the hundreds of thousands across Afghanistan, Hindus and Sikhs have suffered targeted persecution on top of the widespread war that ravaged Afghanistan. New York Times, "Sikhs and Hindus Bear Brunt of Latest Afghanistan Suicide Attack," 1 July 2018 Not all migrants are considered refugees: Those escaping war or persecution are protected under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and can’t be turned away. Fortune, "Why European Tension Is Rising Over Migrants (Again)," 23 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'persecution.' 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 persecution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for persecution

Last Updated

22 Apr 2019

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The first known use of persecution was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for persecution


per·​se·​cu·​tion | \ ˌpər-si-ˈkyü-shən How to pronounce persecution (audio) \

Kids Definition of persecution

1 : the act of continually treating in a cruel and harmful way
2 : the state of being continually treated in a cruel and harmful way



Legal Definition of persecution

: punishment or harassment usually of a severe nature on the basis of race, religion, or political opinion in one's country of origin claimed persecution and sought asylum

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Comments on persecution

What made you want to look up persecution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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