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
  1. verb
    conduct a prosecution in a court of law
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    type of:
    act, move
    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
  2. verb
    bring a criminal action against (in a trial)
    “The State of California prosecuted O.J. Simpson”
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    defend, represent
    be the defense counsel for someone in a trial
  3. verb
    carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in
    synonyms: engage, pursue
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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)
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.

Continue reading...

Word Family

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