Bait, badger, heckle, hector, chivy, hound, ride mean to persist in tormenting or harassing another.
Bait derives its implications from its basic reference to the action of dogs set on to bite and worry an animal (as a chained bear, boar, or bull). Both in this and in extended use it suggests wanton cruelty or malicious delight in persecution.
Badger is more specific than bait. Basically it suggests the baiting of a badger that has been trapped in a hole or barrel and can neither escape nor adequately defend itself from attack; in reference to persons it implies pestering or persecuting that drives the victim into a hopelessly confused or frenzied state of mind.
Heckle implies persistent questioning of a speaker (as a candidate for election, a legislator discussing a bill before the house, or a person advocating or condemning a movement or cause) and an attempt to bring out his weaknesses or to destroy the effect of his argument.
It suggests an intent to harass and confuse a speaker by frequent interruptions and by inconvenient or embarrassing questions.
Hector always carries a suggestion of bullying and implies a spirit-breaking scolding or maddeningly domineering treatment.
Chivy and hound both stress relentless chasing and pursuing.
Chivy, however, often also suggests teasing or annoying past the endurance of the victim.
Hound implies persistent and long-continued persecution till the tormentor’s end is achieved or the victim acknowledges himself defeated.
Ride implies persistent goading or spurring (as by unfair criticism, ridicule, or onerous impositions).