verb pur·sue \ pər-ˈsü , -ˈsyü \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of pursue

pursued; pursuing
1 : to follow in order to overtake, capture, kill, or defeat
2 : to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish : seek
  • pursue a goal
3 : to proceed along
  • pursues a northern course
4 a : to engage in
  • pursue a hobby
b : to follow up or proceed with
  • pursue an argument
5 : to continue to afflict : haunt
  • was pursued by horrible memories
6 : 2chase 1c
  • pursued by dozens of fans



Examples of pursue in a Sentence

  1. It is this peace among the Great Powers—at least for the near term—that makes it truly possible both to pursue my vision of the post-Cold War world and, at the same time, to hedge against failure by maintaining the capacity to protect ourselves and our interests … —Robert S. McNamaraIn Retrospect1995
  2. The monster truck pursued him at insane speeds, through phone booths and gas pumps and even over cliffs, but he never knew why. —Hunter S. ThompsonRolling Stone14-28 July 1994
  3. In a world of nation-states the assumption that governments will pursue their own interests gives order and predictability to international affairs. —Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.American Heritage3 May/June 1994
  4. Hounds pursued the fox for miles.

  5. The criminal is being pursued by police.

  6. He chose to pursue a college degree.

  7. She wants to pursue a legal career.

Recent Examples of pursue from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pursue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of pursue

Middle English, from Anglo-French pursure, pursiure, from Latin prosequi, from pro- forward + sequi to follow — more at pro-, sue

pursue Synonyms


guide, lead, pilot;

Near Antonyms



run after;

Synonym Discussion of pursue

chase, pursue, follow, trail mean to go after or on the track of something or someone. chase implies going swiftly after and trying to overtake something fleeing or running.
    • a dog chasing a cat
pursue suggests a continuing effort to overtake, reach, or attain.
    • pursued the criminal through narrow streets
follow puts less emphasis upon speed or intent to overtake.
    • friends followed me home in their car
trail may stress a following of tracks or traces rather than a visible object.
    • trail deer
    • trailed a suspect across the country

PURSUE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of pursue for English Language Learners

  • : to follow and try to catch or capture (someone or something) for usually a long distance or time

  • : to try to get or do (something) over a period of time

  • : to be involved in (an activity)

PURSUE Defined for Kids


verb pur·sue \ pər-ˈsü \

Definition of pursue for Students

pursued; pursuing
1 : to follow after in order to catch or destroy : chase
  • A dog pursued the fleeing cat.
2 : to follow up or proceed with
  • He won't answer, so why pursue it?
3 : to try to get or do over a period of time
  • I've decided to pursue a degree in geography.



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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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