Partly from Middle French insister, from Latin īnsistere; and partly from a back-formation from insistence.


  • IPA(key): /ɪnˈsɪst/
  • (file)
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  • Rhymes: -ɪst
  • Hyphenation: in‧sist


insist (third-person singular simple present insists, present participle insisting, simple past and past participle insisted)

  1. (with on or upon or (that + ordinary verb form)) To hold up a claim emphatically.
    The defendant insisted on his innocence.
    I insist that my secretary dresses nicely.
    (I am defending her; see a similar example in the context below for comparison.)
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
      But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud, [] . We began to tell her about Mohair and the cotillon, and of our point of observation from the Florentine galleried porch, and she insisted she would join us there.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
      Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
  2. (sometimes with on or upon or (that + subjunctive)) To demand continually that something happen or be done.
    The Prime Minister insisted on his Chancellor's resignation.
    The Prime Minister insisted that his Chancellor resign.
    I insist that my secretary dress nicely.
  3. (obsolete, chiefly geometry) To stand (on); to rest (upon); to lean (upon).
    • 1709, Venturus Mandey, Synopsis Mathematica Universalis:
      Angles likewise which insist on the Diameter, are all Right Angles.


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