noun ag·gra·va·tion \ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən\

Definition of aggravation

  1. 1 :  an act or circumstance that intensifies something or makes something worse His interference was an aggravation of the situation.

  2. 2 :  the act, action, or result of aggravating something or someone; especially :  an increasing in seriousness or severity aggravation of an injury

  3. 3 :  irritation, provocation Her job involves a lot of stress and aggravation.

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 aggravation in a sentence

  1. trying to avoid the aggravation of an existing back problem

  2. I don't need all this aggravation.

  3. This car has caused me nothing but aggravation.

  4. Many talented people now feel that a career in politics isn't worth all the aggravation.

  5. I don't need all these aggravations.

Origin and Etymology of aggravation

see aggravate

First Known Use: 1546

AGGRAVATION Defined for English Language Learners


noun ag·gra·va·tion \ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən\

Definition of aggravation for English Language Learners

  • : the act or result of making a condition, injury, etc., worse : the act or result of aggravating something

  • : something that annoys or bothers someone : something that aggravates someone

AGGRAVATION Defined for Kids


noun ag·gra·va·tion \ˌa-grə-ˈvā-shən\

Definition of aggravation for Students

  1. 1 :  an act or the result of making worse or more serious All that walking resulted in aggravation of an existing knee injury.

  2. 2 :  something that annoys or bothers someone The constant noise was a source of aggravation.

Seen and Heard

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


to help become familiar with something

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • ludwig-richter-spring-has-arrived
  • Which is a synonym of upbraid?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.