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His belief was under siege from/by skeptics' words.

Can either "by" or "from" be used with "under siege"?

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  • Possible duplicate of When to use "from" or "by"
    – Gamora
    Jun 13, 2019 at 16:25
  • Both prepositions are used, but by is the better choice because it works with a wider range of "similar" verbs relating to beliefs - influenced / reinforced / shaped / shared / held / challenged / supported / undermined / ... BY [whatever agency acted upon those beliefs]. Jul 24, 2021 at 11:44
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    "Under siege" is an idiom, so the prepositions it goes with may be idiosyncratic. Best to look for examples.
    – nschneid
    Dec 14, 2022 at 4:37

3 Answers 3

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The most common usage of "under siege" is without a "by/from/due to" clause.

All of these do not sound exactly right:

His belief was under siege from skeptics' words.
His belief was under siege by skeptics' words.
His belief was under siege due to skeptics' words.

An alternative might be: "His belief was under siege. He could not shake the effect of the skeptics' words."

There are other examples, and sometimes they fit the situation:

"President Trump on Monday said the National Rifle Association was “under siege” by the New York attorney general".
"Europe is under siege from a plague of oak processionary caterpillars."
"Volkswagen Under Siege Due to Cheating on Emissions Tests"

So, either "by" or "from" can be used with "under siege" but it depends on the sentence.

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    “besieged by” would work better for an actual siege, but “under siege” is very popular in the press when used metaphorically.
    – StephenS
    Oct 1, 2020 at 17:19
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Generally, under siege by is used for a specific enemy conducting a literal siege, while under siege from is used with multiple attackers or to denote a more general attack. However, "under siege by" is sometimes used in metaphorical senses, and there is no firm division.

Looking at examples in Google Books

By: "It was under siege by the Union Army." "when Jerusalem was under siege by Rome" "Social conservatives worried that American values were under siege by Democrats, liberals, and others who sought to turn the nation in a direction much different from the nostalgic past they remembered" "Our real self is under siege by our anti-self." "Ukraine is under siege by Russia at this moment"

From: "But not an all-out war; just the daily abrasions of a people, the Palestinians, who feel under siege from the Israelis, who feel under siege from the Arabs, who feel under siege from the United States." "The self is under siege from a host of conventional attitudes and expectations about coupling that adversely affect intimacy and sexuality." "West Beirut was under siege from the Israeli army" "some members soon felt the party to be under siege from these newly arriving pacifists." "The results of these investigations show an agency under siege from political pressures"

Google NGrams shows that "by" is a bit more popular, but not enough to draw firm conclusions. (Also note that there's no firm definition of a siege in military studies, and it can be used of loose/ineffective or tight/total encirclements.)

In summary, while I'd recommend "His belief was under siege from skeptics' words" in your example, I wouldn't worry about it.

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You don't have to add "by/from", this wouldn't add any meaning to the already established phrase. The reader should understand intuitively that this phrase is an outcome for the previous.

His belief was under siege.

It can be added as an introduction which makes more sense:

From these words, his belief was under siege.

By saying these words, his belief was under siege.

However, if you really insist on adding them, use "by" for your phrase, as from usually relies on a point of time.

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    While true in your examples, this only applies if you are not making reference to the entity doing the besieging. You would always say The castle in under siege from the enemy
    – Chenmunka
    Jun 12, 2021 at 9:48
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    You don't answer the question of what the correct preposition is after "under seige"
    – gotube
    Jun 12, 2021 at 20:41

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