aggravate

verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt How to pronounce aggravate (audio) \
aggravated; aggravating

Definition of aggravate

transitive verb

1 : to make worse, more serious, or more severe : to intensify unpleasantly problems have been aggravated by neglect
2a : to rouse to displeasure or anger by usually persistent and often petty goading were aggravated by the noise and traffic
b : to produce inflammation in
3 obsolete
a : to make heavy : burden

Keep scrolling for more

Common Uses of Aggravate, Aggravation, and Aggravating: Usage Guide

Although aggravate has been used to refer to rousing someone to anger since the 17th century, it has been the object of disapproval only since about 1870. It is used in expository prose when his silly conceit … about his not-very-good early work has begun to aggravate us — William Styron but seems to be more common in speech and casual writing. a good profession for him, because bus drivers get aggravated — Jackie Gleason, interview, 1986 & now this letter comes to aggravate me a thousand times worse — Mark Twain, letter, 1864 The "make worse" meaning is far more common in published prose than the "rouse to anger" meaning. Such is not the case, however, with aggravation and aggravating. Aggravation is used in the "irritation, provocation" sense somewhat more than in its earlier senses; aggravating has practically no use other than to express annoyance.

Examples of aggravate in a Sentence

She aggravated an old knee injury. They're afraid that we might aggravate an already bad situation. A headache can be aggravated by too much exercise. The symptoms were aggravated by drinking alcohol. All of these delays really aggravate me. Our neighbors were aggravated by all the noise.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web That means outside of social media—which can aggravate alienation as much as alleviate it—millennials depend on employers as their main formal connection to society. David Meyer, Fortune, "Brace yourselves for the coming days," 2 Nov. 2020 There are a number of explanations as to why obesity can aggravate COVID-19 infections. Chin Jou, Scientific American, "Another Misguided 'War' on Obesity," 23 Aug. 2020 Missing out on family gatherings would only aggravate those feelings. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "'The virus is attending these events': Experts fear COVID spike from holiday gatherings. Here's what you need to know.," 21 Oct. 2020 Cash has returned to practice but is being eased back into service -- as not to aggravate the injury and cause a relapse – with Miller expected to maintain the starting strong safety spot for at least one more game. Evan Dudley, al, "'Just more fun’: How Damon Miller took hold of safety role," 16 Oct. 2020 Ozone can cause a number of health problems such as shortness of breath and aggravate lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis, according to the EPA. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is Methane, Anyway?," 25 Sep. 2020 Veteran Republican operative Terry Sullivan said perceptions that Trump was falling behind could further aggravate his fundraising woes. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, "'Spending it at a furious clip': Trump campaign fundraising woes compounded by high cost of raising money," 23 Sep. 2020 The same dry conditions that aggravate the fires also undermine new forest growth. NBC News, "Fierce, frequent, climate-fueled wildfires may decimate forests worldwide," 22 Sep. 2020 Braun has been dealing with a back issue all season and appeared to aggravate it while hitting a single in the first inning. Steve Megargee, Star Tribune, "Nottingham's slam helps Brewers rally to beat Royals 9-5," 18 Sep. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of aggravate

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for aggravate

borrowed from Latin aggravātus, past participle of aggravāre "to weigh down, burden, oppress, make worse," from ad- ad- + gravāre "to make heavy, weigh down," verbal derivative of gravis "heavy" — more at grieve

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aggravate

Time Traveler for aggravate

Time Traveler

The first known use of aggravate was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Statistics for aggravate

Last Updated

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aggravate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aggravate. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aggravate

aggravate

verb
How to pronounce aggravate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of aggravate

: to make (an injury, problem, etc.) more serious or severe
informal : to make (someone) angry : to annoy or bother (someone)

aggravate

verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt How to pronounce aggravate (audio) \
aggravated; aggravating

Kids Definition of aggravate

1 : to make worse or more serious aggravate an injury Don't aggravate an already bad situation.
2 : to make angry usually by bothering again and again All of these delays really aggravate me.

aggravate

transitive verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ ˈag-rə-ˌvāt How to pronounce aggravate (audio) \
aggravated; aggravating

Medical Definition of aggravate

1 : to make worse, more serious, or more severe movement may aggravate the pain
2 : to produce inflammation in : irritate surgery aggravated the nerve

Keep scrolling for more

aggravate

transitive verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt How to pronounce aggravate (audio) \
aggravated; aggravating

Legal Definition of aggravate

: to make more serious, more severe, or worse maliciousness aggravated the offense aggravating factors — compare mitigate

Other Words from aggravate

aggravation \ ˌa-​grə-​ˈvā-​shən How to pronounce aggravation (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on aggravate

What made you want to look up aggravate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!