prosecute

verb
pros·​e·​cute | \ ˈprä-si-ˌkyüt How to pronounce prosecute (audio) \
prosecuted; prosecuting

Definition of prosecute

transitive verb

1 : to follow to the end : pursue until finished prosecute a war
2 : to engage in : perform
3a : to bring legal action against for redress or punishment of a crime or violation of law
b : to institute legal proceedings with reference to prosecute a claim

intransitive verb

: to institute and carry on a legal suit or prosecution

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Other Words from prosecute

prosecutable \ ˌprä-​sə-​ˈkyü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce prosecutable (audio) \ adjective

Prosecute vs. Persecute

Take care to distinguish between prosecuted and persecuted, although we sincerely hope that neither word applies to you. Persecute typically has a small range of meanings, such as “to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict.” Although the word is occasionally found in dialectal use to mean “prosecute,” many usage guides consider this to be an error. Prosecute is generally found today in a legal context (“to bring legal action against for redress or punishment of a crime or violation of law”), although the word may also be used to mean “to follow to the end” or “to engage in.” If someone is prosecuted they are being tried in a court of law; if they are persecuted they are being targeted and harassed.

Examples of prosecute in a Sentence

The store's owner agreed not to prosecute if the boy returned the stolen goods. The case is being prosecuted by the assistant district attorney. She criticized the government for the way it has prosecuted the war.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 9th Judicial Circuit, based on reports. Lynnette Cantos, orlandosentinel.com, "Winter Park man arrested for mass shooting threat on social media, FDLE says," 10 Aug. 2019 The Turkish suppliers who provided the Avastin to the doctor's office were eventually prosecuted. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Counterfeit medication is endangering Arizonans. Here's what you need to know.," 9 Aug. 2019 McCord touched on the specific difference between prosecuting a case as murder rather than terrorism. Brian Pascus, CBS News, "U.S. laws fall short in confronting domestic terrorism, former DOJ official says," 6 Aug. 2019 Williams is also awaiting trial in Harford County on charges of distributing narcotics and conspiracy to distribute narcotics that stem from a wiretap investigation, Assistant State’s Attorney H. Scott Lewis, who is prosecuting both cases, said. Erika Butler, baltimoresun.com, "Edgewood man convicted of heroin, cocaine possession with intent to distribute," 6 Aug. 2019 Alternatively, a country may lack the resources necessary to investigate or prosecute it. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, "Environmental Activists Have Higher Death Rates Than Some Soldiers," 5 Aug. 2019 The California attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. Leila Miller, latimes.com, "Reddit group becomes flashpoint in sex abuse scandal at La Luz del Mundo church," 15 July 2019 Skrocki prosecuted a case that involved two groups of men who trapped, then shot bears to extract their gallbladders for export to Korea. National Geographic, "In the Alaska-Yukon wilderness, wildlife crime fighters face a daunting task," 25 June 2019 The judge decided to set an Aug. 16 hearing concerning arguments about the costs to prosecute the case. Marc Freeman, sun-sentinel.com, "Son gets 15 years for chopping up dead father’s remains in Boca garage," 21 June 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prosecute

Middle English, from Latin prosecutus, past participle of prosequi to pursue — more at pursue

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Statistics for prosecute

Last Updated

18 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prosecute

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

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More Definitions for prosecute

prosecute

verb

English Language Learners Definition of prosecute

law : to hold a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty
: to work as a lawyer to try to prove a case against someone accused of a crime
formal : to continue to do (something) : to proceed with (something)

prosecute

verb
pros·​e·​cute | \ ˈprä-si-ˌkyüt How to pronounce prosecute (audio) \
prosecuted; prosecuting

Kids Definition of prosecute

1 : to carry on a legal action against an accused person to prove his or her guilt
2 : to follow up to the end : keep at prosecute a war

prosecute

verb
pros·​e·​cute | \ ˈprä-si-ˌkyüt How to pronounce prosecute (audio) \
prosecuted; prosecuting

Legal Definition of prosecute

transitive verb

1 : to institute and carry forward legal action against for redress or especially punishment of a crime
2 : to institute and carry on a lawsuit with reference to an action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interestFederal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 17(a)

intransitive verb

: to institute and carry on a civil or criminal action decided not to prosecute

Other Words from prosecute

prosecutable \ ˌprä-​si-​ˈkyü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce prosecutable (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for prosecute

Latin prosecutus, past participle of prosequi to pursue

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Comments on prosecute

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