From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



First attested in the 1570s. From Old French accoster, from Vulgar Latin accosto (to come alongside someone), from ad (near) + costa (rib, side). Cognate with Spanish acostar (to lie down, go to bed).



accost (third-person singular simple present accosts, present participle accosting, simple past and past participle accosted)

  1. (transitive) To approach and speak to boldly or aggressively, as with a demand or request.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To join side to side; to border.
  3. (by extension, transitive, obsolete) To sail along the coast or side of.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To approach; to come up to.
  5. (transitive) To speak to first; to address; to greet.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book III”, in Paradise Lost, line 653:
      Him, Satan thus accosts.
    • 1847, Charlotte Bronte, chapter XVIII, in Jane Eyre:
      She approached the basin, and bent over it as if to fill her pitcher; she again lifted it to her head. The personage on the well-brink now seemed to accost her; to make some request—"She hasted, let down her pitcher on her hand, and gave him to drink."
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 5, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC:
      I quickly followed suit, and descending into the bar-room accosted the grinning landlord very pleasantly.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) To adjoin; to lie alongside.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book V”, in The Faerie Queene, canto 2, stanza XLII:
      For all the Shores, which to the Sea accost
    • 1662, Thomas Fuller, “Derby-shire”, in History of the Worthies of England:
      Lapland hath since been often surrounded (so much as accosts the sea) by the English.
  7. (transitive) To assault.
    • 2017 June 21, Glenn E. Rice, “Police seek two gunmen who accosted Kansas City couple”, in The Kansas City Star[1]:
      Surveillance video of the incident shows the man and woman being accosted by a man armed with and assault-style handgun.
    • 2012 August 21, Ed Pilkington, “Death penalty on trial: should Reggie Clemons live or die?”, in The Guardian[2]:
      The Missouri prosecutors' case against Clemons, based partly on incriminating testimony given by his co-defendants, was that Clemons was part of a group of four youths who accosted the sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge one dark night in April 1991.
  8. (transitive) To solicit sexually.
    • 1997, Travis L. Crosby, The Two Mr. Gladstones:
      Gladstone's initial tone of disinterested philanthropy also characterized his first encounters with prostitutes in London once he has moved there to undertake his parliamentary duties. Accosted in a London park in 1837 by two women, Gladstone merely reported of them that "both ... had taken to their miserable calling from losing their livelihood by the death of their husbands."

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


accost (plural accosts)

  1. (rare) Address; greeting.
    • 1866, Margaret Oliphant, chapter XXIII, in Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford):
      A man does not seize a woman by the sleeve and ask, "Is it you?" without some reason for an address so destitute of ordinary courtesy; and Lucilla was sufficiently versed in such matters to know that so rude and startling an accost could be only addressed to some one whose presence set the speaker's heart beating, and quickened the blood in his veins.
    • 1871, Henry Morley, Clement Marot:
      Anne liked to accost foreigners in their own tongue , but , being ignorant of Spanish , asked M. de Grignaux to teach her a sentence of polite accost in his own language, wherewith to welcome an ambassador from Spain.
    • 1897, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Drovers”, in St. Ives:
      Great was my amazement to find the unconquerable Mr. Sim thaw immediately on the accost of this strange gentleman, who hailed him with a ready familiarity, proceeded at once to discuss with him the trade of droving and the prices of cattle, and did not disdain to take a pinch from the inevitable ram's horn.
  2. An attack.