aggravate

verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The defendants are charged with wire fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, among other offenses. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Eight people charged with running a multimillion-dollar online ad scam," 27 Nov. 2018 Shapiro makes a living having takes that are intended to aggravate liberals, and, consequently, is beloved by a certain group of conservatives. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "When Men Demand Your Attention, It's OK to Ignore Them," 22 Aug. 2018 Cosby originally faced a maximum 30-year sentence before O’Neill chose to merge the counts of aggravated indecent assault into one; prosecutors asked that O’Neill sentence him to the new maximum of five to 10 years. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Bill Cosby Sentenced to 3 to 10 Years in Prison for Sexually Assaulting Andrea Constand," 25 Sep. 2018 Police said Conner was already in custody, charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon from an incident on June 10 in the 7600 block of South Vincennes, police said. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Teen charged with carjacking Will County judge in Greektown," 28 June 2018 The rules are aimed at cutting pollution from commercial ships burning high-sulfur fuel, which causes respiratory ailments and can aggravate heart disease. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "U.S. Seeks More Time for Ships to Switch to Cleaner Fuels," 18 Oct. 2018 Some in Europe suspect that Trump is also trying to use the energy issue as a means of prolonging Europe’s dependence on the US – and perhaps even dominating it by aggravating divisions between Europe’s east and west. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "How strong a Europe does US want? In Trump era, that's still the issue.," 13 July 2018 In a separate 2018 case, Chu was sentenced to four months in prison and three years of probation in connection with aggravated DUI. Kelsey Mo, azcentral, "Stanley Chu sentenced to 15-year prison term for fatal 2016 crash in Tempe," 13 July 2018 Orlando police arrested Joseph for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon a month ago. Maria Elena Vizcaino, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando 17-year-old charged as adult in attempted murder of stepfather, records show," 11 July 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.

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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

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Learn More about aggravate

Statistics for aggravate

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aggravate

The first known use of aggravate was in 1530

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More Definitions for aggravate

aggravate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of aggravate

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

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

aggravate

verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \
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 \
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

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aggravate

transitive verb
ag·​gra·​vate | \ˈa-grə-ˌvāt \
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 \ noun

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Comments on aggravate

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