verb ag·i·tate \ˈa-jə-ˌtāt\

Definition of agitate




  1. transitive verb
  2. 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>

  3. 2a :  to discuss excitedly and earnestlyb :  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>

  4. 3a obsolete :  to give motion tob :  to move with an irregular, rapid, or violent action <The storm agitated the sea.>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to attempt to arouse public feeling <agitated for better schools>




play \ˌa-jə-ˈtā-shən\ noun


play \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective

Examples of agitate in a sentence

  1. If I talk about the problem with him it just agitates him even more.

  2. Some members of the union have been agitating for a strike.

  3. A few local residents have been agitating against a military presence.

  4. The mixture is heated and then agitated.

Origin and Etymology of agitate

Latin agitatus, past participle of agitare, frequentative of agere to drive — more at agent

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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>.

AGITATE Defined for English Language Learners


verb ag·i·tate \ˈa-jə-ˌtāt\

Definition of agitate for English Language Learners

  • : to disturb, excite, or anger (someone)

  • : to try to get people to support or oppose something

  • : to move or stir up (a liquid)

AGITATE Defined for Kids


verb ag·i·tate \ˈa-jə-ˌtāt\

Definition of agitate for Students



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

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

  3. 3 :  to try to stir up public feeling <agitate for change>


\-tā-tər\ noun

Seen and Heard

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


related through a mother

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • m-ws-new-words-quiz
  • Which word means "inability to recognize faces"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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