\ ˈä-ˌgän How to pronounce agon (audio) , ˈa-, ä-ˈgōn How to pronounce agon (audio) \

Definition of agon

: conflict especially : the dramatic conflict between the chief characters in a literary work

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Agon and Greek History

Agon comes from the Greek word agōn, which is translated with a number of meanings, among them "contest," "competition at games," and "gathering." In ancient Greece, agons (also spelled "agones") were contests held during public festivals. The contests-among them the ancient Olympics that our modern Olympics is modeled on-involved everything from athletics to chariot and horse racing to music and literature. "Agon" in the realm of literature refers to the dramatic conflict between the main characters in a Greek play, or more broadly, between the chief characters in any literary work. The word is also occasionally used to refer to conflict generally.

Examples of agon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Each competitor in the agon is expected to stake his or her claims on truth; Nietzsche advanced his own opinions with utmost vehemence. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Nietzsche’s Eternal Return," 7 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'agon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of agon

1600, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for agon

borrowed from Greek agṓn "gathering, assembly, contest" — more at agony

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Cite this Entry

“Agon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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