\ ˈpest How to pronounce pest (audio) \

Definition of pest

1 : an epidemic disease associated with high mortality specifically : plague
2 : something resembling a pest in destructiveness especially : a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns (such as agriculture or livestock production)
3 : one that pesters or annoys : nuisance

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Other Words from pest

pesty \ ˈpe-​stē How to pronounce pesty (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for pest


pestilence, plague

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Examples of pest in a Sentence

These insects are pests for farmers. mice and other household pests You're being a real pest. Would you leave us alone, please?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Costs to treat termites depends on the size of colony and size of the building, according to local pest control companies Hitman Termite and Pest Control in Deerfield Beach and Enviro-Safe Protection Pest Control in Boca Raton. Doreen Christensen,, "Termite tips: How to identify, kill and prevent the voracious pests," 10 June 2019 Originally brought to the United States in 1916 to control pests in greenhouses, the insects escaped and spread across the U.S. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "A 10-Mile-Wide Ladybug Swarm Buzzed Over San Diego," 7 June 2019 The Los Angeles Times reports there were pest complaints — rats, mice or fleas — made in 20 different locations within City Hall for a five-month period through February. Brian Pascus, CBS News, "Los Angeles grapples with homeless camps, illegally dumped trash and rat-infested City Hall," 4 June 2019 Experts are also watching the spread of a pest called the fall armyworm, a sort of caterpillar that likes to eat rice, sorghum and corn crops. New York Times, "A Slower Economy. A Trade War. Now, China Faces Rising Food Prices.," 4 June 2019 Marchand, who has earned a reputation as Boston’s foremost pest, had just been credited with an assist on the Bruins’ shorthanded goal, which tied the game at two apiece. Joan Niesen,, "At His Best and Worst, Jordan Binnington Reveals How He Has Stabilized the Blues," 4 June 2019 Break out these pantry items for a few different ways to send pests packing. Natalie Schumann, Country Living, "How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good," 9 May 2019 Correction posted December 9, 2016 The third paragraph has been corrected to reflect that this statistic includes multiple invasive pests. The Christian Science Monitor, "Corrections," 4 Mar. 2019 Be on the lookout for these pests and make sure to dispose of them before other plants are harmed. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This $15 Plant From Amazon Will Turn Your Backyard Into a Monarch Butterfly Paradise," 30 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pest.' 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 pest

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pest

Middle French peste, from Latin pestis

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Statistics for pest

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for pest

The first known use of pest was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for pest



English Language Learners Definition of pest

: an animal or insect that causes problems for people especially by damaging crops
informal : a person who bothers or annoys other people


\ ˈpest How to pronounce pest (audio) \

Kids Definition of pest

1 : nuisance … Kirsti was such a pest, always butting in.— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars
2 : a plant or animal that is harmful to humans or property


\ ˈpest How to pronounce pest (audio) \

Medical Definition of pest

1 : an epidemic disease associated with high mortality specifically : plague sense 2
2 : something resembling a pest in destructiveness especially : a plant or animal detrimental to humans or human concerns

Other Words from pest

pesty \ ˈpes-​tē How to pronounce pesty (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on pest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pest

Spanish Central: Translation of pest

Nglish: Translation of pest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pest for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pest

Comments on pest

What made you want to look up pest? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

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