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 But like any parent, her mother continues to agonize over the safety of her daughter. Sana Noor Haq, CNN, 16 June 2021 When former President Donald Trump lost last year's election, most Republicans didn't do what most losing parties do -- agonize over how to modify their message and appeal to a majority to deliver them future power. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 21 June 2021 Driving enthusiasts may agonize when slow legislative change results in a sales ban of the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 manual, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Michael Harley, Forbes, 15 June 2021 Many non-native English speakers agonize over training their tongues to sound more American or British. Anne Quito, Quartz, 11 June 2021 Non-native English-speaking students and professionals can learn how to enhance their English writing, figure out the meaning of idioms, and not agonize over how to express and articulate their ideas in English. Neal Taparia, Forbes, 4 June 2021 But even the best word smiths among us can agonize over what to write in their mom's Mother's Day card? Katie Bowlby, Country Living, 28 Mar. 2021 The recruiting piece flashes brightest with fans who agonize every time a five-star recruit leaves the state. Star Tribune, 6 Mar. 2021 Opened over 40 years ago by the Leavitt family, the doughnut and pie counter extends the length of the store, leaving little room to do anything but agonize over the decision in front of you. Andrea Capodilupo,, 12 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for agonize

Time Traveler

The first known use of agonize was in 1570

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Statistics for agonize

Last Updated

10 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Agonize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on agonize

Nglish: Translation of agonize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of agonize for Arabic Speakers


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