agitate

verb
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

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Synonyms for agitate

Synonyms

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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 And, for activists, how to effectively agitate for banning unwanted technologies. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "New York Returns Its Police ‘Robodog’ After a Public Outcry," 30 Apr. 2021 American politics had hit on an amazing ability to mobilize citizens, but also to agitate them to unspeakable violence. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian Magazine, "19th-Century America’s Partisan Warfare," 27 Apr. 2021 The head of an oscillating toothbrush moves back and forth to agitate and dislodge plaque. Melissa Nott, chicagotribune.com, "How electric toothbrushes work," 24 Mar. 2021 Quite the opposite is experienced by introverts — even the thought of opportunity can agitate them. Naira Velumyan, Forbes, "The Interplay Of Physics, Job Search And Cost Optimization," 18 Mar. 2021 Still, some organizations and countries are starting to agitate for a loosening that could make for an economically healthy summer season. Kerri Westenberg, Star Tribune, "When can Americans get back to Europe?," 12 Mar. 2021 Wu’s appointment to the NEC grants him real power to agitate for his preferred policies at the highest levels of the executive branch. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "Biden appointee Tim Wu is a populist antitrust crusader," 6 Mar. 2021 Biden didn't want to agitate anyone, particularly his party's left wing, the new ally of Big Tech that is stamping out dissent. John Kass Chicago Tribune, Star Tribune, "Can liberty survive all this 'unity'?," 21 Jan. 2021 The emails have all been harassing in nature and serve no other purpose than to agitate the husband. John Benson, cleveland, "Resident does meth, feels weird, calls police: Strongsville Police Blotter," 23 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for agitate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for agitate

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Agitate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agitate. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for agitate

agitate

verb

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)

agitate

verb
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

Comments on agitate

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