verb per·sist \ pər-ˈsist , -ˈzist \
|Updated on: 4 Aug 2018

Definition of persist

1 : to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning
2 obsolete : to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position
3 : to be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (such as a question or an opinion)
4 : to continue to exist especially past a usual, expected, or normal time



Examples of persist in a Sentence

  1. She had turned him down for a date before, but he persisted and asked her again.

  2. The reporter persisted with his questioning.

  3. If you persist with this behavior, you will be punished.

  4. Must you persist in making that noise?

  5. If the pain persists, see a doctor.

  6. Doubts about the defendant's story have persisted for some time now.

  7. Rumors persist that they are dating.

Recent Examples of persist from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'persist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of persist

Middle French persister, from Latin persistere, from per- + sistere to take a stand, stand firm; akin to Latin stare to stand — more at stand

Synonym Discussion of persist

continue, last, endure, abide, persist mean to exist over a period of time or indefinitely. continue applies to a process going on without ending.
    • the search for peace will continue
last, especially when unqualified, may stress existing beyond what is normal or expected.
    • buy shoes that will last
endure adds an implication of resisting destructive forces or agencies.
    • in spite of everything, her faith endured
abide implies stable and constant existing especially as opposed to mutability.
    • a love that abides through 40 years of marriage
persist suggests outlasting the normal or appointed time and often connotes obstinacy or doggedness.
    • the sense of guilt persisted

PERSIST Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of persist for English Language Learners

  • : to continue to do something or to try to do something even though it is difficult or other people want you to stop

  • : to continue to occur or exist beyond the usual, expected, or normal time

PERSIST Defined for Kids


verb per·sist \ pər-ˈsist \

Definition of persist for Students

persisted; persisting
1 : to keep on doing or saying something : continue stubbornly
  • The reporter persisted with questions.
2 : to last on and on : continue to exist or occur
  • Rain persisted for days.

Word Root of persist

The Latin word sistere, meaning “to stand,” “to appear,” “to stop,” or “to put,” gives us the root sist. Words from the Latin sistere have something to do with standing, appearing, stopping, or putting. To assist, or help, is to stand by someone in order to give aid. To consist is to be made up of a number of thing put together. To exist, or have actual being, is to appear real. To persist is to refuse to stop doing or saying something.

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