Definition of aggravate
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
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 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.
Did You Know?
Since the grav- root means basically "weighty or serious", the original meaning of aggravate was "to make more serious". A bad relationship with your parents can be aggravated by marrying someone who nobody likes, for example, or a touchy trade relationship between two countries can be aggravated by their inability to agree on climate-change issues. Depression can be aggravated by insomnia--and insomnia can be aggravated by depression. But when most people use aggravate today, they employ its "annoy" sense, as in "What really aggravates my dad is having to listen to that TV all day long".
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
First Known Use: 1530
AGGRAVATE Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of aggravate for Students
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.
Seen and Heard
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