ag·​o·​nize | \ ˈa-gə-ˌnīz How to pronounce agonize (audio) \
agonized; agonizing

Definition of agonize

transitive verb

: to cause to suffer agony : torture

intransitive verb

1 : to suffer agony, torture, or anguish agonizes over every decision
2 : struggle

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Examples of agonize in a Sentence

got into more trouble, further agonizing her poor mother agonized for days over whether she'd done the right thing

Recent Examples on the Web

And Comey offers a lot of judgments about his own behavior, after agonizing over his handling of the Clinton emails in 2016 and of Trump in 2017. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Don’t Tell Us Comey’s Judgments About Trump: His Judgment’s Terrible," 17 Apr. 2018 Every mother interviewed agonized over their decision. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Anti-Abortion Activists Are Still Defending Forced Birth with Debunked Science," 26 Jan. 2019 His subsequent downfall is agonizing if a bit predictable, although critics probably made the same complaint about Sophocles. Daniel Akst, WSJ, "‘The Hazards of Good Fortune’ Review: An Unforgiven Overreacher," 5 Oct. 2018 The quality group agonizes while the quantity group experiments and gets better. Kate Bachelder Odell, WSJ, "‘Atomic Habits’ and ‘The Bullet Journal Method’ Review: New Year’s Baby Steps," 31 Dec. 2018 Word of the resolution elated state officials, who have agonized for months over the possibility of closing CHIP to new children, as Connecticut did, or reducing or ending benefits for youngsters. Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, "Short-term spending agreement provides longer-term relief for CHIP," 22 Jan. 2018 That was apparent in behind-the-scenes agonizing over the issue of workmen’s compensation for players. ... Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Michigan coach's athlete payment plan to invest in stocks has its holes," 12 May 2018 The case lasted for weeks, and the wait for my call to testify was agonizing. Jennifer Gilbert, Marie Claire, "The Scars You Don't See," 30 Apr. 2012 The past few weeks of his nomination have been agonizing. Mackenzie Long, Teen Vogue, "What Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Could Mean for Women, Gun Control, and More," 8 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'agonize.' 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 agonize

1570, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for agonize

borrowed from Middle French agoniser "to exercise, struggle, suffer, (in past participle agonisé) torment," borrowed from Medieval Latin agōnizāre "to struggle, suffer death pangs," going back to Late Latin, "to fight, wrestle," borrowed from Greek agōnízesthai "to contest, fight," verbal derivative of agṓn "assembly, contest" — more at agony

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Statistics for agonize

Last Updated

29 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for agonize

The first known use of agonize was in 1570

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More Definitions for agonize



English Language Learners Definition of agonize

: to think or worry very much about something


ag·​o·​nize | \ ˈa-gə-ˌnīz How to pronounce agonize (audio) \
agonized; agonizing

Kids Definition of agonize

: to think or worry very much about something She agonized over the choices.

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More from Merriam-Webster on agonize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with agonize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for agonize

Spanish Central: Translation of agonize

Nglish: Translation of agonize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of agonize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on agonize

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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