per·​sist | \ pər-ˈsist How to pronounce persist (audio) , -ˈzist How to pronounce persist (audio) \
persisted; persisting; persists

Definition of persist

intransitive verb

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

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Other Words from persist

persister noun

Synonyms for persist


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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

Examples of persist in a Sentence

She had turned him down for a date before, but he persisted and asked her again. The reporter persisted with his questioning. If you persist with this behavior, you will be punished. Must you persist in making that noise? If the pain persists, see a doctor. Doubts about the defendant's story have persisted for some time now. Rumors persist that they are dating.
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Recent Examples on the Web The data represents what economists say is a disconcertingly high number of new jobless claims that persist seven months into the pandemic. Washington Post, "Unemployment claims dip slightly in last report before election," 21 Oct. 2020 Our models show that our use of energy and resources will have side effects that persist for hundreds of thousands of years into the future. Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, "Fifty Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since the First Earth Day," 22 Apr. 2020 This is an important corrective to the low expectations that persist and a poignant reminder of how a transforming society has transformed the lives of people with Down syndrome. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "The Last Children of Down Syndrome," 18 Nov. 2020 Almost unbelievably, the new indemnity provision would weaken OSHA’s already underwhelming Covid response—and in legislative language that would persist after the Trump administration was no longer running the agency. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "The Media’s Both-Sides Brigade Is Wrong About the Covid-19 Stimulus Deal," 17 Oct. 2020 Williams was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a pain disorder with no clear cause that can persist for years. Washington Post, "Injured D.C. workers are starting to lose their benefits. Advocates say a new bill would be a lifeline.," 15 Oct. 2020 Sharon Lerner of The Intercept this week continued her stellar reporting on PFAS, a group of synthetic and likely carcinogenic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Trump can't recall his environmental stance in debate," 1 Oct. 2020 Those who fall ill, and particularly those who fall seriously ill, produce greater amounts of antibodies that persist for longer amounts of time—an outcome that would seem, upon first glance, to offer greater protection, too. William A. Haseltine, Scientific American, "What COVID-19 Reinfection Means for Vaccines," 23 Sep. 2020 Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that persist longer than an average meteor streak. Leada Gore |, al, "Perseid meteor shower peaks overnight: Times, how to see shooting stars," 11 Aug. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of persist

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for persist

Time Traveler

The first known use of persist was in 1531

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Statistics for persist

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Persist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for persist


How to pronounce persist (audio) How to pronounce persist (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of persist

: 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


per·​sist | \ pər-ˈsist How to pronounce persist (audio) \
persisted; persisting

Kids Definition of persist

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.

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Comments on persist

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