aggravate

play
verb ag·gra·vate \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \

Definition of aggravate

aggravated; aggravating
transitive verb
1 :to make worse, more serious, or more severe :to intensify unpleasantly
  • problems have been aggravated by neglect
2 a :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

Common Uses of aggravate, aggravation, and aggravating

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 Gleasoninterview1986
    • & now this letter comes to aggravate me a thousand times worse
    • —Mark Twainletter1864
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

  1. She aggravated an old knee injury.

  2. They're afraid that we might aggravate an already bad situation.

  3. A headache can be aggravated by too much exercise.

  4. The symptoms were aggravated by drinking alcohol.

  5. All of these delays really aggravate me.

  6. Our neighbors were aggravated by all the noise.

Recent Examples of aggravate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of aggravate

Latin aggravatus, past participle of aggravare to make heavier, from ad- + gravare to burden, from gravis heavy — more at grieve


AGGRAVATE Defined for English Language Learners

aggravate

play
verb

Definition of aggravate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (an injury, problem, etc.) more serious or severe

  • : to make (someone) angry : to annoy or bother (someone)


AGGRAVATE Defined for Kids

aggravate

play
verb ag·gra·vate \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \

Definition of aggravate for Students

aggravated; aggravating
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.

Word Root of aggravate

The Latin word gravis, meaning “heavy” or “serious,” gives us the root grav. Words from the Latin gravis have something to do with heaviness or seriousness. Something grave, or important, such as a situation, requires serious thought and consideration. To aggravate is to make a situation more serious. Gravity is a force that pulls everything towards the ground making it feel heavy.


Medical Dictionary

aggravate

play
transitive verb ag·gra·vate \ ˈag-rə-ˌvāt \

medical Definition of aggravate

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

Law Dictionary

aggravate

play
transitive verb ag·gra·vate \ ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \

legal Definition of aggravate

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

aggravation

play \ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən\ noun


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