ag·​gra·​va·​tion ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce aggravation (audio)
: an act or circumstance that intensifies something or makes something worse
His interference was an aggravation of the situation.
: the act, action, or result of aggravating something or someone
especially : an increasing in seriousness or severity
aggravation of an injury
: irritation, provocation
Her job involves a lot of stress and aggravation.
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 aggravation in a Sentence

trying to avoid the aggravation of an existing back problem I don't need all this aggravation. This car has caused me nothing but aggravation. Many talented people now feel that a career in politics isn't worth all the aggravation. I don't need all these aggravations.
Recent Examples on the Web San Diegans have another bit of inflation aggravation to deal with as the average price for regular-grade gasoline is back over the $5 per gallon mark. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Mar. 2024 Opting for a temperature that's not too hot or cold will prevent aggravation of your hives. Karen Pallarito, Health, 24 Mar. 2024 On Reddit, trans people had strength in numbers and power against the aggravation of trolls. Paresh Dave, WIRED, 14 Mar. 2024 An increase in clashes with Israeli settlers, as well as delays at checkpoints and road closures imposed by the Israeli military, are all adding to stress and aggravation felt by Palestinians here. D. Parvaz, NPR, 4 Mar. 2024 After Billionaire Carl Icahn Reveals Nearly 10% Stake Ghosting Candidates Ghosting is a widespread issue and has become one of the biggest sources of aggravation for job seekers. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Teeth sensitivity is a concern, so we were impressed at how the baking soda allowed for such a deep clean without any teeth or gum aggravation. Barbara Bellesi Zito, Peoplemag, 13 Dec. 2023 Yet this teensy dot of ink can sure cause a lot of aggravation. John Kelly, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2023 Throwing hundreds of fasteners into a few large unlabeled bags creates exactly the sort of aggravation that turns people off from ever getting involved in these kits. Larry Webster, Car and Driver, 23 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aggravation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin aggravātiōn-, aggravātiō "a weighing down," from Latin aggravāre "to weigh down, aggravate" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns

First Known Use

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aggravation was in 1546

Dictionary Entries Near aggravation

Cite this Entry

“Aggravation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ag·​gra·​va·​tion ˌag-rə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce aggravation (audio)
: the act or result of aggravating
: something that aggravates

More from Merriam-Webster on aggravation

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!