mid-14c., persecucioun, "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Old French persecucion "persecution, damage, affliction, suffering" (12c.) and directly from Latin persecutionem (nominative persecutio), noun of action from past-participle stem of persequi "to follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + sequi "follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow").
General senses of "malevolent oppression, harassing or oppressive treatment," also "a time of general or systematic oppression" are from late 14c. Psychological persecution complex in reference to an irrational sense of being victimized by malign forces as a feature of a mental disorder is recorded from 1961; the earlier phrase for it was persecution mania (1892).
early 15c., persecutour, "one who pursues and harasses another unjustly and vexatiously," especially "a persecutor of Christians, an oppressor (of the Church or Christians)," from Anglo-French persecutour, Old French persecutor "persecutor, enemy" (12c., Modern French persécuteur) and directly from Latin persecutor, agent noun from persequi (see persecution).
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to follow."
It forms all or part of: associate; association; consequence; consequent; dissociate; ensue; execute; extrinsic; intrinsic; obsequious; persecute; persecution; prosecute; pursue; second (adj.) "next after first;" second (n.) "one-sixtieth of a minute;" sect; secundine; segue; sequacious; sequel; sequence; sequester; sociable; social; society; socio-; subsequent; sue; suit; suite; suitor; tocsin.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sacate "accompanies, follows;" Avestan hacaiti, Greek hepesthai "to follow;" Latin sequi "to follow, come after," secundus "second, the following;" Lithuanian seku, sekti "to follow;" Old Irish sechim "I follow."
1680s, "one who flees to a refuge or shelter or place of safety; one who in times of persecution or political disorder flees to a foreign country for safety," from French refugié, a noun use of the past participle of refugier "to take shelter, protect," from Old French refuge "hiding place," from Latin refugium "a taking refuge; place to flee back to," from re- "back" (see re-) + fugere "to flee" (see fugitive (adj.)) + -ium , neuter ending in a sense of "place for."
In English, the word was first applied to French Huguenots who fled persecution in their native country after the revocation (1685) of the Edict of Nantes. The word meant "one seeking asylum" until 1914, when it evolved to mean "one fleeing home" (first applied in this sense to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I). In Australian slang from World War II, reffo.
c. 1200, throwe "pain, pang of childbirth, agony of death," of uncertain origin, possibly from Old English þrawan "twist, turn, writhe" (see throw (v.)), or altered from Old English þrea (genitive þrawe) "affliction, pang, evil; threat, persecution" (related to þrowian "to suffer"), from Proto-Germanic *thrawo (source also of Middle High German dro "threat," German drohen "to threaten"). Modern spelling first recorded 1610s. Related: Throes.
mid-15c., member of an early Christian sect founded mid-3c. by the theologian Novatianus (c. 200-258). The schism involved readmission of Christians who had denied their faith under the Decian persecution (Novatianus favored strict treatment and non-forgiveness). Related: Novatianism.
Roman emperor 54-68 C.E., born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, noted in history for his tyrannical and cruel disposition and moral depravity, the fire in 64 which destroyed much of Rome and which he was accused of setting, and his persecution of Christians. Related: Neronian; Neronic.
also Marano, "a Jew or Moor in Spain who, to avoid persecution, publicly professed conversion to Christianity while privately continuing in the practices and beliefs of their old religion," 1580s, from Spanish, probably literally "pig, swine," an expression of contempt, from Arabic muharram "forbidden thing" (eating of pork is forbidden by Muslim and Jewish religious law), from haruma "was forbidden" (see harem).
The modern system of salesmanship has become so much like persecution reduced to a science, that it is quite a luxury to be allowed the use of your own discretion, without being dragooned, by a shopkeeper's deputy, into looking at what you do not care to see, or buying what you would not have. A man in his sane mind, with the usual organs of speech, has a right to be treated as if he knows what he wants, and is able to ask for it. [The Literary World, Feb. 26, 1853]
late 14c., "persecution" (a sense now obsolete), also "a chase with hostile intent," from Anglo-French purseute, pursuite, Old French porsuite "a search, pursuit" (14c., Modern French poursuite), from porsivre (see pursue).
Meaning "action of following briskly for the purpose of overtaking" (regardless of intent) is from mid-15c. Sense of "one's profession, recreation, etc." is attested from 1520s on the notion of "object of one's continued exertions, what one follows or engages in." As a type of track cycling race from 1938.