To afflict is to cause suffering, pain, or misery. It’s often associated with medical conditions. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most likely to afflict someone who spends many hours every day typing on our computers.

We get afflict from the Latin word affligere, meaning “to strike down,” which is an old fashioned way of saying to get sick, or to have a condition of some kind. You could argue that chronic indecision was the main problem to afflict Hamlet, or that saying "um," "like," and "you know" are speech tics that afflict teens.

Definitions of afflict
  1. verb
    cause physical pain or suffering in
    afflict with the plague”
    synonyms: smite
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    blight, plague
    cause to suffer a blight
    type of:
    inflict damage upon
  2. verb
    cause great unhappiness for; distress
    “she was afflicted by the death of her parents”
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    aggrieve, grieve, harrow
    cause to feel distress
    oppress or trouble greatly
    strain, stress, try
    test the limits of
    stretch to the limits
    type of:
    discomfit, discompose, disconcert, rattle, untune, upset
    cause to lose one's composure
Commonly confused words

afflict / inflict

Both afflict and inflict cause pain, but afflict means to cause suffering or unhappiness, something a disease does, but inflict means to force pain or suffering, like if you smack someone upside the head.

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Word Family

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