antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nist How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Definition of antagonist

1 : one that contends with or opposes another : adversary, opponent political antagonists
2 : an agent of physiological antagonism: such as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (such as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2b

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Synonyms & Antonyms for antagonist

Synonyms

adversary, enemy, foe, hostile, opponent

Antonyms

amigo, friend

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Did You Know?

On the stage or screen, in a story or a novel, the protagonist is the main character and the antagonist is the opposing one. Pro- and ant- usually mark the good and bad characters, but not always; there may occasionally be an evil protagonist and a good antagonist. In the drama of the real world, it's especially hard to sort out which is which, so we usually speak of both parties to a conflict as antagonists. During a strike, for example, representatives of labor and management become antagonists; they often manage to antagonize each other, and the antagonism often remains after the strike is over.

Examples of antagonist in a Sentence

They are interested in character first, and in Don, a foul-mouthed psychopath with a hair-trigger temper and buried longings for Gal's wife, they have created a truly scary antagonist. — David Ansen, Newsweek, 18 June 2001 In the 1970s researchers discovered that the actions of estrogen and other hormones can be blocked chemically by drugs called hormone antagonists — David Plotkin, Atlantic, June 1996 If the new comptroller is a true antagonist of the seamy bond market practices he decried in the campaign, why has he installed as his first deputy the public finance director from the Dinkins administration who was Holtzman's accomplice in each of those deals. — Wayne Barrett, Village Voice, March 1994 As in that film, Kopple not only draws an intimate portrait of the protagonists and antagonists in the strike, but also deftly locates the workers' struggle within a broad context of economic and political forces. — Frank Thompson, Film Comment, January/February 1991 please name the novel's hero and his antagonist his antagonist in the boxing match
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Rhoda character was originally conceived as an antagonist to Moore's Mary, but was eventually fashioned into her outspoken friend. Brian Lowry, CNN, "Valerie Harper, Emmy-winning 'Rhoda' star, dead at 80," 30 Aug. 2019 Issa, who made his name as an antagonist of President Obama as head of the House Oversight Committee, could give Republicans an interesting plan B depending on how Hunter's trial goes. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, "Darrell Issa launching exploratory committee for indicted Rep. Hunter's seat," 29 Aug. 2019 At the beginning of 13 Reasons Why season 2, mean girl Chloe (Anne Winters) is definitely painted as an antagonist. Rachel Paige, refinery29.com, "Everything That Happened Between Bryce & Chloe In 13 Reasons Why Season 2," 24 Aug. 2019 Besides bolstering her credentials as an antagonist of Wall Street, Warren’s new proposal also gives her the chance to tout her avoidance of high-dollar fundraisers and reliance on small donors to power her campaign. Washington Post, "Elizabeth Warren pitches new constraints on private equity," 18 July 2019 Besides bolstering her credentials as an antagonist of Wall Street, Warren's new proposal also gives her the chance to tout her avoidance of high-dollar fundraisers and reliance on small donors to power her campaign. CBS News, "Elizabeth Warren wants to put private equity firms "vampires" to the stake," 18 July 2019 Besides bolstering her credentials as an antagonist of Wall Street, Warren’s new proposal also gives her the chance to tout her avoidance of high-dollar fundraisers and reliance on small donors to power her campaign. Elana Schor, chicagotribune.com, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren targets private equity ‘looting’ of troubled companies," 18 July 2019 The antagonists of the film are only presented as elitists, a group often vilified on both sides of the aisle. David Sims, The Atlantic, "How The Hunt Became a Political Rorschach Test," 13 Aug. 2019 The league unveiled monochromatic uniforms for Players Weekend, eschewing the lively colors of previous years for dull monochromatic duds that appear to channel the Imperial stormtrooper antagonists of the Star Wars franchise. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "MLB Players Weekend uniforms, hats unveiled for Arizona Diamondbacks, other teams," 7 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antagonist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of antagonist

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for antagonist

see antagonize

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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antagonist

The first known use of antagonist was in 1555

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More Definitions for antagonist

antagonist

noun

English Language Learners Definition of antagonist

: a person who opposes another person

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Kids Definition of antagonist

: a person who is against something or someone else : opponent

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ -nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Medical Definition of antagonist

: an agent that acts in physiological opposition contact between a tooth and its antagonist in the opposing jaw : as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

— compare agonist sense 1, synergist sense 2
b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2

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Comments on antagonist

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