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Borrowed from Latin prōsecūtus, perfect participle of prōsequor. Doublet of pursue, from Old French. Compare also persecute.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒsɪkjuːt/
    • (file)


prosecute (third-person singular simple present prosecutes, present participle prosecuting, simple past and past participle prosecuted)

  1. (transitive, law) To start criminal proceedings against.
    to prosecute a man for trespass, or for a riot
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book SAMSON AGONISTES”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554, line 898:
      To acquit themſelves and proſecute their foes
  2. (transitive, law) To charge, try.
    • 1959, William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, page 9
      The Vigilante is prosecuted in Federal Court under a lynch bill and winds up in a Federal Nut House specially designed for the containment of ghosts []
  3. To seek to obtain by legal process.
    to prosecute a right or a claim in a court of law
  4. (transitive) To pursue something to the end.
    to prosecute a scheme, hope, or claim

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.





  1. vocative masculine singular of prōsecūtus