To persecute is to make someone suffer or to keep them in bad circumstances. In some parts of the world governments or military groups persecute, or punish, people for religious beliefs, often sending them to prisons or work camps.

You can use the verb persecute to talk about abusive acts against a person or group of people. Persecute is usually used to specify the harm done to a particular group, as when a person is persecuted for his affiliation with a religious group. Those born of a certain race or culture can be targets too. Adolf Hitler became notorious for his orders to persecute the Jewish people.

Definitions of persecute
  1. verb
    cause to suffer
    “Jews were persecuted in the former Soviet Union”
    synonyms: oppress
    see moresee less
    oust politically
    type of:
    bedevil, crucify, dun, frustrate, rag, torment
    treat cruelly
Commonly confused words

persecute / prosecute

What is it about pursuing legal action that makes people think of harassing someone? Although we're not sure, it turns out that people have been confusing persecute and prosecute from the start.

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Word Family

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