ag·​i·​ta·​tion ˌa-jə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce agitation (audio)
plural agitations
: the act or an instance of agitating something : a moving back and forth or with an irregular, rapid, or violent action
In candy making, this agitation usually consists of working the chocolate back and forth on a marble surface with a large scraper.Rose Levy Beranbaum
The technology is based on the controlled agitation of concentrated ore particles with precisely determined amounts of acid.Corale L. Brierley
: a state or feeling of being agitated and restless
nervous agitation
Holmes was for the moment as startled as I. His hand closed like a vice upon my wrist in his agitation.Arthur Conan Doyle
She sat some time in a good deal of agitation, listening, trembling, and fearing to be sent for every moment …Jane Austen
: a state of excessive psychomotor activity accompanied by increased tension and irritability
… characterized by prominent agitation, irritability, and delusionsOliver Freudenreich et al.
Propranolol and other beta-blockers suppress physical symptoms of agitation and anxiety by slowing down the sympathetic nervous system.The Harvard Mental Health Letter
: a persistent and sustained attempt to arouse public feeling or influence public opinion (as by appeals, discussions, or demonstrations)
political agitation
… makes it clear that this assertive attitude of black women was essential during the agitation for civil rights.Gloria Naylor
agitational adjective

Examples of agitation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Others noted his increasing agitation, his drinking and some erratic behavior. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 12 Feb. 2024 If the goal of Biden’s cynical agitation was to use elementary reverse psychology to guide Republicans into endorsing views that are anathema to most American voters, mission accomplished. Noah Rothman, National Review, 3 Jan. 2024 The cinematography, by Silver’s frequent collaborator Sean Price Williams, with extreme closeups and impulsive agitation, captures a constant sense of volcanic tension just waiting to blow, an effect augmented by John Magary’s exuberantly pugnacious editing. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 29 Jan. 2024 So as of last year, there was no significant shareholder agitation for change. Todd Spangler, Variety, 18 Jan. 2024 What the part, and the play, calls for, for Aubrey and me, was a sustained agitation. Michael Paulson, New York Times, 16 Jan. 2024 Other signs include clumsiness, agitation, drowsiness, weight loss, hearing and balance issues, brain and nervous system damage, developmental delay and decreased activity. Arianna Johnson, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Beyond the Netherlands, since Brexit was seen to have done Britain more harm than good, far-right agitation to leave the E.U. has quieted, replaced by demands for a more hands-off union. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2023 Instead, the Matic focuses on more effective agitation of the cleaning surface, with a roller brush whose flippers are much longer than normal. Adrienne So, WIRED, 20 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'agitation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of agitation was in 1547

Dictionary Entries Near agitation

Cite this Entry

“Agitation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


ag·​i·​ta·​tion ˌaj-ə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce agitation (audio)
: a state of excessive psychomotor activity accompanied by increased tension and irritability
agitated adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on agitation

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