pursue

verb

pur·​sue pər-ˈsü How to pronounce pursue (audio)
-ˈsyü
pursued; pursuing

transitive verb

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
: chase entry 2 sense 1c
pursued by dozens of fans
pursuer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of pursue in a Sentence

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. McNamara, In Retrospect, 1995
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. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 14-28 July 1994
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 Heritage, 3 May/June 1994
Hounds pursued the fox for miles. The criminal is being pursued by police. He chose to pursue a college degree. She wants to pursue a legal career.
Recent Examples on the Web The appointment comes as Wisconsin environmentalists are urging Kaul to be more aggressive in pursuing major oil companies for climate damages. Daniel Bice, Journal Sentinel, 21 May 2024 Only about half enroll in college, even though data indicate that an overwhelming majority wish to pursue careers that require post-high school education. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for pursue 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pursue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pursue was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pursue

Cite this Entry

“Pursue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pursue. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

pursue

verb
pur·​sue pər-ˈsü How to pronounce pursue (audio)
pursued; pursuing
1
: to follow in order to catch up with and seize
2
: to try to obtain or accomplish : seek
pursue pleasure
3
: to proceed along
pursue a northerly course
4
: to engage in : practice
pursue a hobby
5
: to continue to distress severely : haunt
pursued by fear
pursuer noun
Etymology

Middle English pursuen "to follow in order to capture or kill," derived from early French pursure, pursiure (same meaning), derived from Latin prosequi "to follow after, pursue," from pro- "forward" and sequi "to follow" — related to sequel

More from Merriam-Webster on pursue

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