Definition of prosecute in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɒsɪkjuːt/


[with object]
1Institute or conduct legal proceedings against (a person or organization): they were prosecuted for obstructing the highway [no object]: the company didn’t prosecute because of his age
More example sentences
  • If these things had happened solely in the private sector, the members of the cartel would have been prosecuted under the Trade Practices Act.
  • In theory drivers could also be prosecuted for carrying passengers who are not wearing a seatbelt, meaning that in a normal car more than three back-seat passengers would be an offence.
  • Not one worker or trade union has been prosecuted.
1.1Institute legal proceedings in respect of (a claim or offence): the state’s attorney’s office seemed to decide that this was a case worth prosecuting
More example sentences
  • This is a case of an omission or omissions by the appellants as the respondent's solicitors: the failure to prosecute his claim with due diligence which led to his counterclaim being struck out.
  • The Judge hearing any such application will be in a better position than I am to take stock of the Claimant and her prospects of actually prosecuting this claim before the court.
  • The Law Reform Commission recommended that the offences be prosecuted summarily.
take to court, bring/institute legal proceedings against, bring an action against, take legal action against, accuse, cite, summons, sue, try, bring to trial, put on trial, put in the dock, bring a charge against, bring a criminal charge against, charge, prefer charges against, bring a suit against, indict, arraign;
North American  impeach
informal have the law on, do
North American informal jug
rare implead
2Continue with (a course of action) with a view to its completion: a serious threat to the government’s ability to prosecute the war
More example sentences
  • And the administration says, this is the reason it continues to prosecute the war and continues to try to pour more resources into intelligence.
  • Certainly, there was a recognition that we'd need to rebuild stuff that we broke in the course of prosecuting the war.
  • Or does he believe that a bold enough feint will allow him to continue to prosecute this war with his original plan?
2.1 archaic Carry on (a trade or pursuit): I am waiting for permission to prosecute my craft
pursue, carry on, conduct, direct, engage in, work at, proceed with, continue, continue with, keep on with, go ahead with;
fight, wage



Example sentences
  • On Tuesday afternoon, a press officer contacted our reporter to say that some of the pictures appeared as though they had been taken from the trackside and that that would amount to trespass, a prosecutable offence.
  • The possibilities of moral and political embarrassment, to say nothing of the implication of commanding officers in prosecutable actions, are simply too great.
  • In many instances, the available evidence does not rise to the level of prosecutable action.


Late Middle English (in sense 2): from Latin prosecut- 'pursued, accompanied', from the verb prosequi, from pro- 'onward' + sequi 'follow'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pros|ecute

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