ag·i·tate | \ ˈa-jə-ˌtāt \
agitated; agitating

Definition of agitate 

transitive verb

1 : to excite and often trouble the mind or feelings of : disturb My presence did not appear to agitate or irritate him as before, and he accepted my services quietly … —Charlotte Brontë

2a : to discuss excitedly and earnestly

b : to stir up public discussion of … trying to agitate the old question of the embezzlement of the remains of the Confederate Treasury. —Robert Penn Warren

3a obsolete : to give motion to

b : to move with an irregular, rapid, or violent action The storm agitated the sea.

intransitive verb

: to attempt to arouse public feeling agitated for better schools

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Other words from agitate

agitation \ˌa-jə-ˈtā-shən \ noun
agitational \-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for agitate

shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence. shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose. shake well before using agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring. an ocean agitated by storms rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval. the whole city was rocked by the explosion convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm. spectators were convulsed with laughter

discompose, disquiet, disturb, perturb, agitate, upset, fluster mean to destroy capacity for collected thought or decisive action. discompose implies some degree of loss of self-control or self-confidence especially through emotional stress. discomposed by the loss of his beloved wife disquiet suggests loss of sense of security or peace of mind. the disquieting news of factories closing disturb implies interference with one's mental processes caused by worry, perplexity, or interruption. the discrepancy in accounts disturbed me perturb implies deep disturbance of mind and emotions. perturbed by her husband's strange behavior agitate suggests obvious external signs of nervous or emotional excitement. in his agitated state we could see he was unable to work upset implies the disturbance of normal or habitual functioning by disappointment, distress, or grief. the family's constant bickering upsets the youngest child fluster suggests bewildered agitation. his declaration of love completely flustered her

Examples of agitate in a Sentence

If I talk about the problem with him it just agitates him even more. Some members of the union have been agitating for a strike. A few local residents have been agitating against a military presence. The mixture is heated and then agitated.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The darkness of an auditorium, combined with loud sounds, the expectation of being quiet, and remaining in one place for two hours can agitate some on the spectrum, leading to aggressive behavior, crying, or yelling. Katheleen Conti,, "Showcase Cinemas to launch sensory-friendly screenings," 21 June 2018 The two Indian men, both 32 at the time, were having a drink at the bar after work when Purinton got agitated. Faith Karimi, CNN, "Kansas man who killed an Indian engineer at a bar gets life in prison," 5 May 2018 Using tongs, transfer broccoli rabe to bowl of ice water and agitate to rapidly cool down. Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit, "Slow-Cooker Roast Pork Sandwiches," 19 Mar. 2018 While Oregon’s racial resentments seethed, and while local Klaverns continued to agitate about local issues, a single campaign soon became the Klan’s Oregon priority: getting rid of Catholic schools through a constitutional amendment. Longreads, "Oregon’s Racist Past," 12 July 2018 In the best Giacometti installations, viewers can mingle among his figurative sculptures, whose solitary, spindly presences—pinched, twisting, nervously agitated, their forceful eyes drilling into ours—both confront and empathize with us. Lance Esplund, WSJ, "‘Giacometti’ Review: Beyond a Retrospective," 19 June 2018 Some member states, notably Germany, are worried that their economies will start overheating, and have been agitating for tighter policy for a while. The Economist, "The ECB puts an expiry date on quantitative easing," 14 June 2018 He was agitated by an eye injury, but gregarious, sliding an olive out of a martini and making quick work of a rare steak. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Paul Schrader wrestles with the sacred and profane in his new 'First Reformed'," 16 May 2018 In response, cemetery foes started a rival association and continued to agitate for an end to burials in the city, with the ultimate goal of removing all graveyards. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "Lively, lengthy battle over where to bury SF’s dead," 30 Mar. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for agitate

Middle English agitat "set in motion," borrowed from Latin agitātus, past participle of agitāre "to set in motion, drive before one, arouse, disturb, deal with, turn over in the mind," frequentative of agere "to drive, be in motion, do, perform" — more at agent

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Statistics for agitate

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for agitate

The first known use of agitate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for agitate



English Language Learners Definition of agitate

: to disturb, excite, or anger (someone)

: to try to get people to support or oppose something

: to move or stir up (a liquid)


ag·i·tate | \ ˈa-jə-ˌtāt \
agitated; agitating

Kids Definition of agitate

1 : to move or stir up The water was agitated by wind.

2 : disturb, excite, or anger She was agitated by the bad news.

3 : to try to stir up public feeling agitate for change

Other words from agitate

agitator \-tā-tər \ noun

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