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 Blame the record-breaking summer temperatures for another source of aggravation: the abundance of chirping, creeping and crawling in and around Phoenix neighborhoods. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "How the hot, dry Phoenix summer set off an invasion of crickets and other pests," 5 Sep. 2020 Teachers are simultaneously instructing both groups of students, leading to aggravation for teachers as well as students learning online and their parents, speakers at the meeting said. Amy Lavalley,, "Valparaiso teachers, parents critical of school online and in-person learning plan," 21 Aug. 2020 Police in helmets and shields pushed protesters back, which caused more aggravation among the crowd. Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "One arrested during Wauwatosa protest; standoff between officers and crowd ensues," 14 Aug. 2020 The past two games have been an exercise in aggravation for the Wild with the man advantage. Randy Johnson, Star Tribune, "Pushed to the brink, Wild seeks a spark in Game 4," 7 Aug. 2020 With that in mind, here is some advice to limit the aggravation. John Meyer, The Know, "The MLK holiday is the second-busiest ski weekend of the year. Here’s how to avoid the traffic.," 16 Jan. 2020 Make sure the aloe comes direct from the plant, or is fragrance-free, to avoid aggravation to the skin. Claire Gillespie,, "How Long Does a Sunburn Last—and Is There Any Way to Make It Heal Faster?," 6 July 2020 The disruption caused by the virus would be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City. CBS News, "NYC marks 50th anniversary of Pride amid coronavirus pandemic," 28 June 2020 The disruption caused by the virus would be an aggravation in any year, but particularly in this one, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City. Brian Mahoney,, "In NYC, marking 50th anniversary of Pride, no matter what," 28 June 2020

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

Time Traveler for aggravation

Time Traveler

The first known use of aggravation was in 1546

See more words from the same year

Statistics for aggravation

Last Updated

8 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aggravation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!