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

Other Words from prosecute

prosecutable \ ˌprä-​sə-​ˈkyü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce prosecute (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.
Recent Examples on the Web Truss said the United Kingdom will fully support any investigations by the International Criminal Court, in its role as the primary institution with the mandate to investigate and prosecute war crimes. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 4 Apr. 2022 The case is part of the Justice Department’s push to investigate and prosecute gun trafficking amid rising crime across the United States. Washington Post, 2 Apr. 2022 The state attorney general could also investigate any voter without proof of citizenship and could prosecute noncitizens who register to vote. Kelly Mena, CNN, 30 Mar. 2022 The auditor recommended that the state Legislature require the agencies to create a task force to investigate and prosecute fraud and abuse by hospice providers. Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2022 The announcement comes after Texas and Idaho pursued legislation and policies that seek to investigate and subsequently prosecute parents who let their children receive gender-affirming care. Lauren Hernández, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Mar. 2022 The task force — made up of prosecutors, agents, analysts and linguists — will investigate and prosecute current and future sanctions as a result of the Ukraine invasion. NBC News, 16 Mar. 2022 Can one imagine a less equitable manner of fulfilling the executive responsibility to investigate and prosecute? Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, 13 Mar. 2022 The Justice Department will investigate and prosecute people, banks, cryptocurrency exchanges and others that help rich Russians hide or launder their luxury assets and money, a senior department official said. Chris Strohm, Bloomberg.com, 11 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for prosecute

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near prosecute

prosectorship

prosecute

prosecuting attorney

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Statistics for prosecute

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prosecute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prosecute. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for prosecute

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 prosecute (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for prosecute

Latin prosecutus, past participle of prosequi to pursue

More from Merriam-Webster on prosecute

Nglish: Translation of prosecute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prosecute for Arabic Speakers

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