The word persecution was first recorded in English around 1350 CE in a new translation of the Book of Revelation. Back then, it was spelled persecucioun, which reflects its origins in the Old French word persecucion. That came from Latin persecutionem, a noun meaning "follow through" or "pursue", the idea being that the persecutor pursues discrimination against the persecuted - an active campaign against them. The verb form of persecutionem is persequor, which is composed of the prefix per-, meaning "through", and the root sequor, meaning "follow". Per- comes from Proto-Indo-European per, meaning "forward", and sequor traces to Proto-INdo-European sekw, "to follow". Usages of the word persecution over time have been thankfully declining sharply.
Adam Aleksic, a freshman studying linguistics at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in words, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
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