Definition of aggravating 

: arousing displeasure, impatience, or anger an aggravating habit

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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 aggravating in a Sentence

there's nothing so aggravating as a blaring car alarm that no one is paying any attention to

Recent Examples on the Web

The incident happened on the Fourth of July, the time of year when fireworks become one of the most aggravating problems in our lives. Otis R. Taylor Jr.,, "Fireworks fascination can never be defused, so keep your ears plugged," 9 July 2018 Murray acknowledged Delgado-Gonzalez was sincere in his apology but said the mitigating factors didn't outweigh the aggravating factors. Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune, "Uncle sentenced in shooting death of 4-year-old East Chicago boy," 2 July 2018 Hopefully, with his self-destructive tendencies held in check, the mad genius could get back the missing mojo that was last fully displayed in all its aggravating glory on 2013’s grandiose and mostly great Yeezus. Dan Deluca,, "We're worried about Kanye West, but it might already be too late," 2 May 2018 Even more aggravating, Carrie had discovered that Warren was two-timing her, indulging in an affair with a woman less than half his age. Elaine Weiss, WSJ, "Presidential Hush Money, Circa 1920," 31 May 2018 My transition has been the most aggravating and slow going with my parents. Kelsey Castañon,, "I'm Latinx — & I'm Fed Up With Being Called "Exotic"," 24 May 2018 But the most aggravating episode, the alliterative Sox stupidity, occurred in the sixth when Welington Castillo didn’t run out a popup. Steve Rosenbloom,, "Do the White Sox really think Manny Machado would want to play for a team like theirs?," 22 May 2018 Probably more because this is a high-profile case, and there are probably more aggravating circumstances than mitigating circumstances. Katie Reilly, Time, "Bill Cosby Was Found Guilty on 3 Counts of Indecent Assault. Here's How Much Time He Could Serve," 26 Apr. 2018 In order for a judge to impose death, a jury must first find that the prosecution has proved one or more aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt. Rafael Olmeda,, "Cruz withdraws not guilty plea, 'stands mute' on school shooting charges," 9 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aggravating.' 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 aggravating

1673, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aggravating

from present participle of aggravate

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Time Traveler for aggravating

The first known use of aggravating was in 1673

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Comments on aggravating

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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