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.

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The changes go a long way toward building trust among residents who face three more years of aggravation as the highway is demolished, its new path is excavated, and heavy construction continues day and night. Sandra Ruiz-parrilla, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Amid the roar of construction machinery, health officials listened. We thank you.," 28 Aug. 2019 Thompson will be just as vulnerable to a hamstring aggravation that could end his Finals. Bruce Jenkins,, "Warriors’ most important player? Game 3 shows why it might be Klay Thompson," 6 June 2019 Their irresponsibility costs area residents tons of time, money and aggravation. Seattle Times Readers, The Seattle Times, "Rant & Rave: Preschoolers love work trucks," 30 Mar. 2019 Part of the aggravation in the aftermath of the derailment was the lack of clear information on what riders might expect. Globe Staff,, "Higher fares kick in. What about better service?," 30 June 2019 The injury Kevin Durant suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday night was not a re-aggravation of his prior calf injury. Michael Nowels, The Mercury News, "Kevin Durant has Achilles injury, Warriors president Bob Myers says," 10 June 2019 The aggravation isn't limited to scammers pretending to be from the IRS or Social Security. Tali Arbel,, "FCC approves new weapon in war on robocalls. But 'then the scammers find a new way.'," 6 June 2019 There’s no escaping the stress and aggravation of campaigns on behalf of your co-worker, your Tesla-driving neighbor, your underemployed child. Quentin Fottrell, Town & Country, "GoFundMe Has Revolutionized How We Give, But Is That a Good Thing?," 19 June 2019 To ensure the phone numbers are accurate — an aggravation for political campaigns — rally-goers must confirm their tickets by providing a five-digit code sent to their mobile phones. Shannon Pettypiece, Fortune, "Trump Should Be a Shoo-in for 2020, But Low Approval Holds Him Back," 18 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about aggravation

Statistics for aggravation

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for aggravation

The first known use of aggravation was in 1546

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for aggravation



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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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