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

Government officials have promised the new law would not be used against people facing religious or political persecution, but Hongkongers fear China will not abide by that promise. Riley Beggin, Vox, "Extradition and independence: What’s behind the continued protests in Hong Kong," 21 July 2019 The Trump administration said there’s been a sharp increase in migrants claiming fear of persecution or torture when caught by U.S. authorities. Margaret Talev, The Denver Post, "Trump moves to end U.S. asylum for Central American migrants," 15 July 2019 The earliest Christians in the Roman Empire are usually portrayed as eccentrics who withdrew from the world and were threatened by persecution. Fox News, "1,700-year-old recently discovered Christian letter offers clues into how faithful lived centuries ago," 17 July 2019 Erdogan's conciliatory comments this week, however, bring him in line with other Muslim leaders who have avoided condemning the controversial camps, despite widespread accusations of anti-Islamic religious persecution. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Erdogan says Xinjiang camps shouldn't spoil Turkey-China relationship," 5 July 2019 Reasons to flee Migration has long been characterized and complicated by war, enslavement, and persecution. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Human migration sparked by wars, disasters, and now climate," 12 June 2019 For the first time, people who hadn’t previously been involved in LGBTQ rights activism stood up against persecution. Lizz Schumer, Redbook, "What is Pride Month? Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall," 10 June 2019 Throughout history, individuals and groups have left their homes to escape political persecution and other threats. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "What does it mean to be a refugee?," 15 Mar. 2019 Once a serene landscape of fields and gardens, the neighborhood was settled by French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution during the 17th century. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "Where to Find London’s Hidden French Side," 7 Jan. 2019

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

12 Aug 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).


a period when something is suspended

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