noun ag·o·ny \ ˈa-gə-nē \
Updated on: 19 Apr 2018

Definition of agony

plural agonies
1 a : intense pain of mind or body : anguish, torture
  • the agony of rejection
  • the agony of defeat
b : the struggle that precedes death
2 : a violent struggle or contest
  • the agonies of battle
3 : a strong sudden display (as of joy or delight) : outburst
  • an agony of mirth

Examples of agony in a Sentence

  1. She was in terrible agony after breaking her leg.

  2. The medicine relieves the agony of muscle cramps very quickly.

  3. It was agony to watch him suffer like that.

Recent Examples of agony from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'agony.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In Ancient Greece, a public gathering was called agon. Since the Greeks placed a high value on sports and athletic competition, there were almost always athletic events at gatherings on festival days. The struggle to win the prize in such contests came to be called agonia. This term came also to be used for any difficult physical struggle and then for the pain that went with it—physical or mental. Our English word agony, meaning “intense pain of mind or body,” thus comes from a word that meant a happy celebration.

Origin and Etymology of agony

Middle English agonie, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French agonie, borrowed from Late Latin agōnia, borrowed from Greek agōnía "contest, struggle, anguish," from agṓn "gathering, assembly at games, contest for a prize" (derivative of ágein "to lead, drive") + -ia 2-y — more at agent

Synonym Discussion of agony

distress, suffering, misery, agony mean the state of being in great trouble. distress implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress.
    • the hurricane put everyone in great distress
suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress.
    • the suffering of famine victims
misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss.
    • the homeless live with misery every day
agony suggests pain too intense to be borne.
    • in agony over the death of their child

AGONY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of agony for English Language Learners

  • : extreme mental or physical pain

AGONY Defined for Kids


noun ag·o·ny \ ˈa-gə-nē \

Definition of agony for Students

plural agonies
: great physical pain or emotional distress

Medical Dictionary


noun ag·o·ny \ ˈag-ə-nē \

medical Definition of agony

plural agonies
1 : intense pain of mind or body
2 : the struggle that precedes death

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without deliberation, pause, or delay

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