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.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.