From BiblePortal Wikipedia

King James Dictionary [1]

Per'Secute, L. persequor per and sequor, to pursue. See Seek and Essay.

1. In a general sense, to pursue in a manner to injure, vex or afflict to harass with unjust punishment or penalties for supposed offenses to inflict pain from hatred or malignity. 2. Appropriately, to afflict, harass, or destroy for adherence to a particular creed or system of religious principles, or to a mode of worship. Thus Nero persecuted the Christians by crucifying some, burning others, and condemning others to be worried by dogs. See  Acts 22 3. To harass with solicitations or importunity.

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(1): ( v. t.) To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.

(2): ( v. t.) To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death, for adherence to a particular religious creed or mode of worship.