ag·​i·​tate | \ ˈa-jə-ˌtāt How to pronounce agitate (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for agitate


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have grown increasingly agitated with the White House on a range of issues, from Middle East policy to Trump’s choice of venue for the G-7 summit., "Is Trump’s base breaking over impeachment? Tale of congressman’s defiance suggests not - The Boston Globe," 1 Nov. 2019 This lack of playing time has fuelled rumours that the Chilean may agitate for a move away from Barcelona., "Pep Guardiola Labels Barcelona Midfielder Arturo Vidal As Player He Would 'Go To War With'," 1 Nov. 2019 Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have grown increasingly agitated with the White House on a range of issues, from Middle East policy to Trump’s choice of venues for the G-7 summit. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "Is Trump’s base breaking over impeachment? The tale of a congressman’s defiance suggests not.," 31 Oct. 2019 Their failures boggled the mind and agitated a fanbase. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros bounce back to take Game 3 against Nationals," 26 Oct. 2019 Unbeknownst to Sorkin, Disney had already been doing some agitating in private. Celeste Sloman, Town & Country, "Abigail Disney Has a Plan to Fix Capitalism," 23 Sep. 2019 Yates has been among the Padres’ few veteran players clearly agitated with the way this season collapsed under an avalanche of losses — and the reasons why. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres must find manager, but also more major league players," 22 Sep. 2019 Throughout his presidency, Trump has had an agitated back-and-forth with the leader of North Korea, in the hopes of getting the country to give up its nuclear weapons. Eliza Collins, USA TODAY, "Lindsey Graham: President Trump could get Nobel Prize for how he's handled Kim Jong Un," 27 Apr. 2018 Extra people can be agitating for someone who is trying to interpret all of the different things going on around them. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, "Halloween can trigger folks with dementia. Here's how to keep them safe this season," 23 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about agitate

Time Traveler for agitate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for agitate

Last Updated

25 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Agitate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for agitate


How to pronounce agitate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of agitate

: to disturb, excite, or anger (someone)
: to try to get people to support or oppose something
technical : to move or stir up (a liquid)


ag·​i·​tate | \ ˈa-jə-ˌtāt How to pronounce agitate (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on agitate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for agitate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with agitate

Spanish Central: Translation of agitate

Nglish: Translation of agitate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of agitate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on agitate

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


the study of flags

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!