I read a definition of the word "paranoid" in Merriam Webster which was:

characterized by suspiciousness, persecutory trends, or megalomania

I'm not sure what specifically "trends" mean above. Another definition of the word suggest that the one affected with paranoia feels as if other people are trying to harm them, but when I read the relevant definition of "trend" (which is "a prevailing tendency or inclination") it seems to suggest the person "does persecution" not "feel persecuted".

What am I missing?

  • It's strangely worded, but "persecutory" might be a reference to Persecutory Delusion: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecutory_delusion (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4108844 for a more scholarly source). Essentially, this is a technical category of delusions observed in the field of psychology where a person feels they are being persecuted. So "trends" could be referring to a person developing feelings of persecution. Again though, that feels rough to me and I'm not confident in that interpretation.
    – Dmann
    Oct 30, 2019 at 17:52
  • @kelvin: You're absolutely correct, I think this is slightly bad diction; the surrounding nouns in the sequence all refer to the person's state of being. But a person who is "persecutory" is just as you say - the "source" of the persecution. If they had said something like "characterized by having a state of perception of others exhibiting suspiciousness or persecutory trends..." that would've seemed more sensible.
    – BadZen
    Nov 25, 2019 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


It evidently is a legitimate term, because I found it used in medical and legal papers. Below is an example of its use in a paper on mental health. Please see what follows 2) (third line from bottom) below.Screenshot

The Free Medical Dictionary, while not using the word "persecutory", states:

trend (trend) [Old English trendan, to roll, revolve] The inclination to proceed in a certain direction or at a certain rate; used to describe the prognosis or course of a symptom, disease, or methods of disease management"

(My emphasis) I am inferring from this that it means a person with persecutory trends is showing signs of beginning to persecute other people. In light of the other symptoms listed, it does seem to be other-directed. I think you worked out the correct meaning of the term.

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