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

Australian law grants law-enforcement agencies broad authority to prosecute whistleblowers, and the police combed through thousands of files during their search of ABC’s emails, drafts, raw footage, and other sensitive files. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Australia’s Media Raids and the Decline of Press Freedom Worldwide," 6 June 2019 There is no evidence that any of the powerful men accused of abusing girls along with Epstein have ever been prosecuted. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, explained," 22 Feb. 2019 Rosenstein must resign, nay, be fired, nay, be prosecuted! Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Moral anchors aweigh on Kavanaugh, Rosenstein," 24 Sep. 2018 Allison Martin said the district turned the video over to the county attorney’s office see if the other boy should be prosecuted. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS rejected mom's plea for bus aide until son was sexually assaulted," 25 June 2018 Reality Winner, the first person to be prosecuted in President Trump’s declared war on leakers, has agreed to a plea deal. John Edwards, ajc, "Reality Winner to take a plea deal in NSA leak case," 21 June 2018 According to government attorneys, other cases are pending that may be prosecuted under the Hobbs Act. Johnny Diaz, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Feds clamping down on criminals who target Miami Beach tourists," 14 June 2018 The show's plot bears some striking similarities to Marcia's own experience prosecuting the O.J. Simpson case. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Is 'The Fix' Based on a True Story? Here's the Truth Behind Marcia Clark's New Show," 18 Mar. 2019 On March 12, news broke that numerous celebrities including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were being charged in the largest college cheating scam ever ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Is William Singer, the Man at the Center of the College Admissions Fraud Scandal?," 13 Mar. 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

9 Jun 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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