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pest

Syllabification: pest
Pronunciation: /pest
 
/

Definition of pest in English:

noun

1A destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, livestock, etc.
Example sentences
  • The biological control of insect pests by using spiders as predators is being studied in four districts of Kerala.
  • The single most destructive insect pest for Eastern growers - the infamous plum curculio - is unknown in the West.
  • Synthetic pesticides sprayed on crops to check insect pests also kill non-target insects.
1.1 informal An annoying person or thing; a nuisance.
Example sentences
  • He still looked at her as the annoying pest with pigtails.
  • He didn't want her to think of him as an annoying pest.
  • Now the camel and its driver had lost it economic value and became a nuisance and a pest.
Synonyms
nuisance, annoyance, irritation, irritant, thorn in one's flesh/side, vexation, trial, the bane of one's life, menace, trouble, problem, worry, bother
informal pain (in the neck), aggravation, headache, nudnik
1.2 (the pest) archaic Bubonic plague.
Example sentences
  • Moreover, the virulence of the pest was the greater by reason the intercourse was apt to convey it from the sick to the whole, just as fire devours things dry or greasy when they are brought close to it.

Origin

late 15th century (denoting the bubonic plague): from French peste or Latin pestis 'plague'.

More
  • At first this was a term for the bubonic plague. It comes via French peste from Latin pestis ‘plague’. Pestilence (Middle English) is from the same root. Pest in the sense of ‘a destructive plant or animal’ is not found until the mid 18th century, when fear of the Black Death has receded. The informal word pesky (late 18th century) may be related to pest perhaps via pesty. Pester (mid 16th century), however, is not directly connected. The source is French empestrer ‘encumber’, but the English form is influenced by pest. Early use included the meanings ‘overcrowd (a place)’ and ‘impede (a person)’. The current sense ‘annoy someone with frequent requests’ is an extension of an earlier use, ‘infest’, referring to vermin. See also plague

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