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 updrafts lower the weight of the air at the surface, and this can agitate the ocean surface dramatically. Anthony R. Wood,, "That was a 'meteotsunami' that hit Jersey Shore during storm; it wasn't the first time," 16 May 2018 Conservative media has agitated against him, and a cabal of right-wing House Republicans has drafted articles of impeachment to remove him. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Rod Rosenstein: ‘The Department of Justice Is Not Going to Be Extorted.’," 1 May 2018 Crop failures in some areas have further agitated the farming community., "Indian Farmers Call Off Protest After State Bows to Demands," 12 Mar. 2018 After four months in the warehouse, four months of plodding slowly behind the whirlybirds because anything quicker than a walk agitated them, Bo felt slow. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex," 8 July 2018 The tensions over who gets the high ground, and who gets to decide who gets the high ground, are agitating some historic residential neighborhoods like Bywater. Anne Gisleson, Curbed, "Bywater faces its future," 23 May 2018 Democrats could agitate for higher standards for issues like labor regulations in the new NAFTA agreement, and that advocacy could potentially make the negotiation process with Canada and Mexico even longer. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "Trump missed Congress’s deadline for getting a NAFTA deal done. Now what?," 18 May 2018 Within months, the left began to agitate for transgender rights, another moral claim whose substantive meaning is a mystery to most Americans. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Kavanaugh and the Culture Wars," 11 July 2018 The groups claim workers use electric prods and sharp sticks to agitate the bulls before releasing them for the race. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, "Running of the bulls faces backlash from women and animal rights groups," 6 July 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

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for agitate

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

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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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