Share this entry

pestilent Syllabification: pes·ti·lent
Pronunciation: /ˈpestələnt/

Definition of pestilent in English:


1Destructive to life; deadly: pestilent diseases
More example sentences
  • The rise of fast growing slum quarters in cities, foul smelling, pestilent, disease ridden places where workers lived out short lives while working long hours, swelled with the dispossessed tenant farmers.
  • The Duke's affliction is first reported by the doctor as a ‘very pestilent disease.'
  • On the negative side, there is Mitchell, who felt that a pestilent and famine ridden land was peopled by lurking savages.
1.1 informal dated Causing annoyance; troublesome: he regarded journalists as a pestilent race
More example sentences
  • Grimble, once he's given the blessed footwear by his pestilent fairy godmother, has a smooth ride, which means no drama.
  • It's funny how life can oftentimes be like a pestilent 15-year-old.
1.2 archaic Harmful or dangerous to morals or public order; pernicious: the pestilent sect of Luther
More example sentences
  • Presidents come and Presidents go, but pestilent enemies of America will always be lurking, probing for cracks in our foundation.
  • The garbage strike isn't merely a glib metaphor for an economically as well as emotionally pestilent environment, however.


Late Middle English: from Latin pestilens, pestilent- 'unhealthy, destructive', from pestis 'plague'.



Example sentences
  • In the same way he lies pestilently to the people of our great country. These children deserve our support.
  • And I think the same situation would be involved if the critic were concerned to point out that Pindar was scandalously immoral, pestilently cynical, or low and beastly in his views of life.

Words that rhyme with pestilent

flagellant • vigilant

Definition of pestilent in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...