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

An asylum officer found her fear of persecution in El Salvador to be credible, and she was detained pending a court hearing, according to Dolan. Tatiana Sanchez,, "Family files claim against ICE after transgender asylum seeker dies," 13 June 2019 In 1949, his grandparents fled persecution in their native Turkey and resettled in Israel, where his grandfather started a vegetable stall in the famed Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Penny Schwartz,, "Boston chef turns popular falafel truck into a booming Israeli restaurant," 12 June 2019 My friend Caylan Ford has spent her career advocating for international human rights and supporting victims of religious persecution. Anastasia Lin, WSJ, "The Cultural Revolution Comes to North America," 7 Apr. 2019 Somehow, or perhaps inevitably, the attention of those on the right found its way to their latest favorite target of irrational hatred and persecution, Representative Ilhan Omar. Dennis Tang, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Offer to Help Notre-Dame Rebuild Doesn't Match His Response to Puerto Rico's Disaster," 19 Apr. 2019 Walters is one of hundreds of women around the globe currently facing oppression, persecution, violence—even murder and assassination—for defending the environment. Sarah Hurtes, Harper's BAZAAR, "Women Who Risk Everything to Defend the Environment," 30 Nov. 2018 Where persecution has intensified, so too has resistance. Natascha Uhlmann, Teen Vogue, "How Activists Can Fight Back Against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)," 13 May 2019 Of course, to some, Notre-Dame is also a symbol of centuries of French power and, in its more distant past, of religious persecution. Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Decor, "Notre-Dame Cathedral Symbolizes the Power of Architecture to Transform Lives," 16 Apr. 2019 The problem for Erdoğan is that Gülen currently lives in Pennsylvania after coming to the US in 1999 to escape persecution from a previous Turkish administration. Alex Ward, Vox, "Turkey releases US Pastor Andrew Brunson in a big win for Trump," 12 Oct. 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

17 Jun 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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