To prosecute is to participate in or pursue something to completion, like a government’s intention to prosecute a war. Prosecute is most often used for bringing legal action against an accused person or group.

Prosecute comes from the Latin, “prosesutus,” meaning “follow after.” The legal sense of the word first appeared in the 1570s. A district attorney will often prosecute, by bringing legal charges and action against a person or group (watch any TV legal drama, and the prosecution will no doubt prosecute eventually). A company may prosecute by suing to protect against damages. Prosecute should not be confused with the word persecute, which means to harass or oppress.

Definitions of prosecute

v conduct a prosecution in a court of law

Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

v bring a criminal action against (in a trial)

“The State of California prosecuted O.J. Simpson”
defend, represent
be the defense counsel for someone in a trial

v carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in

engage, pursue
show 4 types...
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commit, practice
engage in or perform
engage at close quarters
engage in political activities
work toward the passage of some legislation by exchanging political favors such as trading votes
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

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