From Middle English pursuen, from Anglo-Norman pursure, poursuire etc., from Latin prōsequor (though influenced by persequor). Doublet of prosecute.



pursue (third-person singular simple present pursues, present participle pursuing, simple past and past participle pursued)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To follow urgently, originally with intent to capture or harm; to chase. [from 14th c.]
    • 1382–1395, John Wycliffe et al. (translators), John xv. 20
      The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have pursued me, they shall pursue you also.
    • 2009, Martin Chulov, ‘Iraqi shoe-thrower claims he suffered torture in jail’, The Guardian, 15 Sep 09:
      He now feared for his life, and believed US intelligence agents would pursue him.
  2. (transitive) To follow, travel down (a particular way, course of action etc.). [from late 14th c.]
    Her rival pursued a quite different course.
  3. (transitive) To aim for, go after (a specified objective, situation etc.). [from late 14th c.]
    • 2009, Benjamin Pogrund, ‘Freeze won't hurt Netanyahu’, The Guardian, 1 Dec 09:
      He even stands to gain in world terms: his noisy critics strengthen his projected image of a man determined to pursue peace with Palestinians.
  4. (transitive) To participate in (an activity, business etc.); to practise, follow (a profession). [from 15th c.]
  5. (intransitive) To act as a legal prosecutor.

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