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

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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 Oh, for those wistful, innocent days when health officials agonized over every move made by the first person with COVID-19. Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje,, "The New Normal: COVID-19 has turned us all into shut-ins (bless the pizza-making kits)," 24 Mar. 2020 That history weighed heavily on parade organizers and other Irish-American leaders, who agonized over breaking with more than two centuries of tradition even as celebrations in other cities were scrapped. Liam Stack, New York Times, "St. Patrick’s Day Parade Is Postponed in New York Over Coronavirus Concerns," 12 Mar. 2020 Voters get off the fence The Democratic electorate has spent 15 months in paralysis as voters agonized over which of a sprawling, diverse field was most likely to beat Trump. Nicholas Riccardi, Fortune, "6 takeaways from Biden’s big Super Tuesday bounce," 4 Mar. 2020 For most viewers, the thought of waiting until February is just agonizing. Erin Cavoto, Country Living, "'NCIS: NOLA' Fans Are Furious the Show Isn't Coming Back Until February," 28 Dec. 2019 For half a century, this notorious crime has been regarded as a grim cultural watershed, one of those tipping points at which American innocence — not to mention California dreamin’ — began a prolonged, agonized slide into the Pacific. Tom Gliatto,, "The 10 Best Movies of the Year, According to PEOPLE’s Critic," 26 Dec. 2019 Her slow, agonized awakening, even as her loyalties remain torn, packs real pathos. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hamlet': Theater Review," 11 Feb. 2020 Since season 10 began, fans of the crime drama have been agonizing over Jamie and Eddie's relationship, worrying about Frank's future in the NYPD, and wondering if Danny is finally moving on from Linda. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Sorry, 'Blue Bloods' Fans: We Have Bad News About Tonight's Episode," 17 Jan. 2020 In South Berkeley, residents agonized over the fate of the longstanding Ashby Flea Market, which takes place in the parking lot every weekend. Rachel Swan,, "Berkeley overcomes reservations to move ahead with housing at BART stations," 18 Dec. 2019

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

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The first known use of agonize was in 1570

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Statistics for agonize

Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Agonize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for agonize


How to pronounce agonize (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for agonize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with agonize

Spanish Central: Translation of agonize

Nglish: Translation of agonize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of agonize for Arabic Speakers

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