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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Per·se·cute v. t. [imp. & p. p. Persecuted p. pr. & vb. n. Persecuting.]
 1. To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death, for adherence to a particular religious creed or mode of worship.
    Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.   --Matt. v. 44.
 2. To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.
 Syn: -- To oppress; harass; distress; worry; annoy.