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Definition of persecute:

  1. To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.
  2. To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death, for adherence to a particular religious creed or mode of worship.

Synonyms:

burn, tease, eat, pervert, gripe, excruciate, rail at, exasperate, oppress, banish, malign, harrow, vilify, violate, endorse, trample, beset, grate, nettle, bug, be rough on someone, chafe, misemploy, scourge, provoke, worry, vituperate, ill-use, irk, ravish, drive someone mad, aggrieve, nark, impose on _or_ oppress, ill-treat, bait, plague, hack, tyrannize, hector, use, harm, expel, victimize, crush, encourage, anger, reproach, itch, pique, ruin, defile, rile, bedevil, abuse, slander, put out, maltreat, get, gall, right, annoy, discriminate, ruffle, torment, defame, suppress, frost, exile, injure, spite, rack, prostitute, harass, aggravate, vex, misuse, kill, frustrate, wrong, infuriate, disparage, upon, curse, flog, molest, irritate, damage, prey on, mistreat, besiege, peeve, revile, antagonize, madden, outrage, beat, bother, rasp, strike.

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