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
b : increase

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

Federal prosecutors say 57-year-old Debra Mulloy, of Milford, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. BostonGlobe.com, "Papa John’s founder apologizes for racial slur," 12 July 2018 Sharif Karie, 40, of Olathe and Sheri Beamon, 47, of Kansas City were indicted Wednesday on charges of conspiracy, theft of public money, aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "KC day care operators scammed more than $500,000 from the government, feds allege," 28 June 2018 Harris was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Fleming Smith, ajc, "Ex-CFO charged with embezzling $1M to pay for vacations, other expenses," 15 June 2018 Smith pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Charlotte on Friday to drug distribution, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "Doctor gave patients drugs for sex. Now he's in trucking school to pay the bills.," 1 June 2018 Chaney, of Tangipahoa Parish, pleaded guilty on Dec. 28, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and to commit theft of public money, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Kim Chatelain, NOLA.com, "North Shore woman gets 2 years in prison for tax fraud scheme," 31 May 2018 The man is charged in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati.com, "Feds: Man stole identity, sought $1 million from Catholic Church sex abuse settlement," 4 May 2018 Vue and Vang pleaded guilty to bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, stealing U.S. mail and other related charges in November. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Sacramento man gets nearly four years in prison for Postal Service scam | The Sacramento Bee," 30 Apr. 2018 Theft, Lake Road: On April 20 a resident was arrested on charges of aggravated theft for illegally taking $250,000 from Bay Village Presbyterian Church. Julie A. Short/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Resident takes $250,000 from church: Bay Village Police Blotter," 27 Apr. 2018

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

Share aggravate

Statistics for aggravate

Last Updated

9 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aggravate

The first known use of aggravate was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aggravate

aggravate

verb

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

a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!