pes·​ter ˈpe-stər How to pronounce pester (audio)
pestered; pestering ˈpe-st(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce pester (audio)

transitive verb

obsolete : overcrowd
: to harass with petty irritations : annoy
Choose the Right Synonym for pester

worry, annoy, harass, harry, plague, pester, tease mean to disturb or irritate by persistent acts.

worry implies an incessant goading or attacking that drives one to desperation.

pursued a policy of worrying the enemy

annoy implies disturbing one's composure or peace of mind by intrusion, interference, or petty attacks.

you're doing that just to annoy me

harass implies petty persecutions or burdensome demands that exhaust one's nervous or mental power.

harassed on all sides by creditors

harry may imply heavy oppression or maltreatment.

the strikers had been harried by thugs

plague implies a painful and persistent affliction.

plagued all her life by poverty

pester stresses the repetition of petty attacks.

constantly pestered with trivial complaints

tease suggests an attempt to break down one's resistance or rouse to wrath.

children teased the dog

Examples of pester in a Sentence

Leave me alone! Stop pestering me! one resident pestered the condo board about every little thing
Recent Examples on the Web There are still a few spirits around to pester Hokti, but that’s played for comic relief. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 27 Sep. 2023 Make this and you'll be pestered for the recipe. Get the recipe for Salmon Rillets. 5 Fresh Grapes A key to any good charcuterie board is variety. Christopher Michel, Country Living, 30 Aug. 2023 Aubrey, meanwhile, enjoyed clambering on the tiny orange Fiat, pestering us for the silver candy from the bowl at reception, and chasing the flock of chickens around their little enclosure. Richard Godwin, Travel + Leisure, 5 June 2023 The leadership coach discusses persistence vs. pestering while job searching, and all of the nuances involved in this conversation: Following up (specifically, when and how often), assessing if you’ve been professionally ghosted and gauging when enough is enough. Felice León, Essence, 26 July 2023 And for Luis, Julio is a whiny pain in the ass who just might pester him into getting his life back on track. Time, 28 July 2023 And they’re occasionally pestered by dozens of Ken dolls, who are clearly insecure about being sold (and kept) separately. Peter Debruge, Variety, 18 July 2023 Julie Ertz, for example, is going to her third World Cup as a new mom at age 31 alongside Thompson, her excitable Angel City teammate, who has been pestering Ertz over what to pack, as if the two were heading for a slumber party. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2023 Terry was an excellent student, too, the kind who pestered teachers for extra homework. Jonathan Abrams, New York Times, 19 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pester.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


modification of Middle French empestrer to hobble, embarrass, from Vulgar Latin *impastoriare, from Latin in- + Late Latin pastoria tether — more at pastern

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pester was in 1548

Dictionary Entries Near pester

Cite this Entry

“Pester.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pes·​ter ˈpes-tər How to pronounce pester (audio)
pestered; pestering -t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce pester (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on pester

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!