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

Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons prosecuted their case mercilessly and purified the pernicious influence of comics from popular culture. Wired, "The 11 Best New TV Shows Coming This Fall," 16 Sep. 2019 The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret B. Honrath. Sydney Czyzon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Federal grand jury indicts Jonathan Copeland Sr., father of man who killed a Milwaukee police officer," 6 June 2019 Since then, the government has prosecuted dozens of current and former officials for abuse of office, conspiracy to steal public funds, and fraudulent compensations claims for land use. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Kenya is introducing new banknotes in a bid to fight corruption," 4 June 2019 City prosecutor Karrie Howard later blamed Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police in trying to explain why his office declined to prosecute the case. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s grandson held in jail because of Cuyahoga County’s GPS monitor shortage," 11 Sep. 2019 Choudhury has never been prosecuted and continues to amass a new generation of followers). Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Toronto: The #MeToo Reckoning Comes to the Big Screen," 7 Sep. 2019 The case is an important one, partly because Sinnott isn’t the first judge to balk at Rollins’s policy of declining to prosecute nonviolent crimes. Adrian Walker, BostonGlobe.com, "Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins thinks her fight with judges is long overdue," 5 Sep. 2019 Like Comey, the Justice Department declined to prosecute. Marcy Wheeler, The New Republic, "How Trump’s Justice Department Screwed James Comey," 30 Aug. 2019 But the report also found that none of the information shared by him or his attorneys with anyone in the media was classified, and the Justice Department has declined to prosecute Comey. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: The EPA plan even Big Oil opposes," 30 Aug. 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

13 Oct 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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