ag·​gra·​va·​tion | \ ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce aggravation (audio) \

Definition of aggravation

1 : an act or circumstance that intensifies something or makes something worse His interference was an aggravation of the situation.
2 : the act, action, or result of aggravating something or someone especially : an increasing in seriousness or severity aggravation of an injury
3 : irritation, provocation Her job involves a lot of stress and aggravation.

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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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Why put himself through the aggravation with the time needed for an all-in commitment? Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Urban Meyer, Bill Cowher should be at top of Cowboys' coaching candidates list," 5 Jan. 2020 Forty miles from downtown Denver, where horse properties are plentiful and urban aggravations few, Elizabeth is starting to feel the city’s hot breath on its municipal neck. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of Sept. 30 – Oct. 6," 6 Oct. 2019 In the week ahead, an unexpected bill or expense can become the subject of aggravation. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Nov. 24, 2019: Happy birthday Katherine Heigl; Taurus, share a meal with someone new," 24 Nov. 2019 Recently, though, some of the aggravation has spilled out into the public. New York Times, "Why Pete Buttigieg Annoys His Democratic Rivals," 9 Nov. 2019 That’s a valuable benefit which can save you time and aggravation during the holidays. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Here’s a checklist for surviving holiday travel — with your sanity intact," 9 Nov. 2019 The procedure done last year and this year may have been done for insurance against future injury OR aggravation. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tua Tagovailoa surgery is not the norm," 20 Oct. 2019 That creates customer aggravation, and that loses sales. Frederick N. Rasmussen,, "Paul R. 'Rudi' Tischer, auto dealer, dies," 12 June 2019 Environmental stress sets a plant up for aggravation from pests and diseases. oregonlive, "The key to healthy houseplants? Location, location, location," 11 Nov. 2019

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

1546, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aggravation

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

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Learn More about aggravation

Time Traveler for aggravation

Time Traveler

The first known use of aggravation was in 1546

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Statistics for aggravation

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aggravation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for aggravation


How to pronounce aggravation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of aggravation

: the act or result of making a condition, injury, etc., worse : the act or result of aggravating something
informal : something that annoys or bothers someone : something that aggravates someone


ag·​gra·​va·​tion | \ ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce aggravation (audio) \

Kids Definition of aggravation

1 : an act or the result of making worse or more serious All that walking resulted in aggravation of an existing knee injury.
2 : something that annoys or bothers someone The constant noise was a source of aggravation.

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Comments on aggravation

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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