Synonyms & Antonyms of afflict

to cause persistent suffering to
  • the South was afflicted by a severe drought
  • he's been afflicted by nightmares ever since the accident

Synonyms for afflict

Words Related to afflict

Near Antonyms for afflict

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Frequently Asked Questions About afflict

How is the word afflict different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of afflict are rack, torment, torture, and try. While all these words mean "to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear," afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress.

ills that afflict the elderly

Where would rack be a reasonable alternative to afflict?

In some situations, the words rack and afflict are roughly equivalent. However, rack stresses straining or wrenching.

a body racked by pain

When might torment be a better fit than afflict?

While in some cases nearly identical to afflict, torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance.

a horse tormented by flies

In what contexts can torture take the place of afflict?

The synonyms torture and afflict are sometimes interchangeable, but torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering.

tortured by a sense of guilt

When can try be used instead of afflict?

Although the words try and afflict have much in common, try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control.

children often try their parents' patience

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Time Traveler for afflict

Time Traveler

The first known use of afflict was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Afflict.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on afflict

Nglish: Translation of afflict for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afflict for Arabic Speakers


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