[muh-lest] /məˈlɛst/

verb (used with object)
to bother, interfere with, or annoy.
to make indecent sexual advances to.
to assault sexually.
verb (transitive)
to disturb or annoy by malevolent interference
to accost or attack, esp with the intention of assaulting sexually

1570s, agent noun from molest.

late 14c., “to cause trouble, grief, or vexation,” from Old French molester “to torment, trouble, bother” (12c.) and directly from Latin molestare “to disturb, trouble, annoy,” from molestus “troublesome, annoying, unmanageable,” perhaps related to moles “mass” (see mole (n.3)) on notion of either “burden” or “barrier.” Meaning “sexually assault” first attested 1950. Related: Molested; molesting.


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