per·se·cu·tion | \ˌpər-si-ˈkyü-shən \

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

In an effort to escape Nazi persecution, Anne Frank and her family famously spent more than two years hiding in a secret annex behind her father’s business. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Anne Frank’s Family Tried to Escape to the United States, New Research Shows," 6 July 2018 For instance, many people come to the United States seeking asylum — a legal means of entering the country, often to escape persecution in their homelands. Jeff Gammage,, "In Philly, Sen. Casey demands Trump administration produce plan to reunite separated families," 25 June 2018 By definition, a refugee is one who flees their homeland, often to escape persecution, war, gang violence or something else. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "Seeking safety after war-torn pasts, refugees become citizens and are 'reborn' in Boise," 23 June 2018 These people could be fleeing persecution for factors like their race, religion or political views. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Asylum 101: Here are the basics of what it is and who gets it," 22 June 2018 Women's Refugee Commission The Women's Refugee Commission advocates for the rights of women, their children and youths who flee persecution and violence in their homelands. Mark Curnutte,, "How Ohioans can help children and families separated at the border," 19 June 2018 In the 1980s, thousands of Tamils escaping persecution in Sri Lanka boarded boats to India. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Fear of Islam Leads India to Snub Refugees," 31 May 2018 Mahmoud hopes to use the Mr. Gay World contest in Malta to help a gay Syrian refugee escape political persecution as well as bring international attention to the life-threatening situations faced by LGBT Syrians. Loren King,, "LGBT Film Festival takes on immigration," 22 Mar. 2018 The United States has accepted more than 32,000 Iranian religious minorities under a 1989 law known as the Lautenberg Amendment that established a program to provide safe haven for Jews escaping persecution in the Soviet Union. Martin Kuz, San Antonio Express-News, "Iranian refugees seeking to settle in San Antonio have detoured into limbo," 3 Mar. 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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7 Oct 2018

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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 \

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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