\ 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

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 (the word is also pluralized in English as agones) were contests held during public festivals. The contests—among them the ancient Olympics, on which our modern Olympics is modeled—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 in general.

Examples of agon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The tale itself highlights Greene’s prescient moral insight for the War on Terror: in situations of limited agency, description is the foundational moral agon. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 23 Sep. 2021 His grand vision here drops a few narrative strands: Batman’s troubled conscience and Superman’s resurrection and reunion with Lois Lane (Amy Adams) get neglected in exchange for closer examination of Aquaman’s origin and Cyborg’s agon. Armond White, National Review, 19 Mar. 2021 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, 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 17 May. 2022.

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