ag·​o·​nize | \ˈa-gə-ˌnīz \
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

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 Flake had been undecided, and has publicly agonized over the toxicity of this confirmation process and modern-day politics in Washington. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Flake's 'yes' on Kavanaugh sparks angry backlash from Democrats, activists," 28 Sep. 2018 The most notable difference between Contra and the woman who plays her lies in the question of sincerity; in person, Wynn is earnest and agonizes over the utility of her work. Katherine Cross, The Verge, "The Oscar Wilde of YouTube fights the alt-right with decadence and seduction," 24 Aug. 2018 Spider-Man’s pensive moments — when Peter agonized over sacrifices his alter ego had demanded of him, for example — echoed the psychological struggles in Mr. Ditko’s earlier horror comics. Andy Webster, New York Times, "Steve Ditko, Influential Comic-Book Artist Who Helped Create Spider-Man, Dies at 90," 7 July 2018 Some women hoping to get pregnant—and the doctors treating them—agonize over using embryos with some abnormal cells. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, "The Goal: Longer Life With Less Loneliness," 28 Apr. 2018 Instead of watching James agonize over Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo, viewers were simply told that Durant was on James’ team. Ben Golliver,, "To Avoid Another All-Star Calamity, the NBA Must Fix Its Voting Process," 26 Jan. 2018 Each minute of the film is agonizing in some way or another — each minute, that is, except for the two minutes toward the end when Rachel does her hair. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "The Rachel Dolezal Documentary Gave Us the Hair Tutorial We Didn’t Ask For," 27 Apr. 2018 Others gave birth to unloved babies; some agonized over whether to give them away. Washington Post, "Silent pain: Rohingya rape survivors’ babies quietly emerge," 5 July 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

9 Dec 2018

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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 \
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

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a knickknack or trinket

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