agony

noun
ag·​o·​ny | \ ˈa-gə-nē How to pronounce agony (audio) \
plural agonies

Definition of agony

1a : 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for agony

Synonyms

Gehenna, hell, horror, misery, murder, nightmare, torment, torture

Antonyms

heaven, paradise

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of agony in a Sentence

She was in terrible agony after breaking her leg. The medicine relieves the agony of muscle cramps very quickly. It was agony to watch him suffer like that.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This didn’t come with countless nights of excruciating pain, swelling, and mental agony. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Why Does Cam Ayala Get a "Pity Rose" on Hannah's Season of 'The Bachelorette'?," 22 May 2019 Part of the beauty, and the agony, of gold hoops is that there are so many good ones to be had. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "How to Find the Perfect Gold Hoops," 29 Mar. 2019 Just think of a statue of a tortured man holding his head in his hands, his face a study in agony, his stone mouth a silent scream. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Joy of Chicago's Croatians cresting as World Cup final with France approaches," 13 July 2018 During the waiting game that was Porter’s season at Missouri, at some point the 19-year-old went from a beloved hometown star to a source of unreasonable agony, and love turned to… something else. Joan Niesen, SI.com, "The Mystery That Is Michael Porter Jr.," 19 June 2018 Hamels was responsible for a great deal of the Yankees’ agony, allowing only four hits, striking out seven and walking two. New York Times, "Cole Hamels Advertises Himself to the Yankees by Beating Them," 23 May 2018 Just two days after Luke Perry's death at age 52, his two children, Jack and Sophie, have posted on their social media accounts to give tribute to their father — and to express their surprise and agony at the shocking tragedy. Kaitlin Menza, Woman's Day, "Luke Perry's Children Posted Tributes to Their Dad on Instagram," 6 Mar. 2019 The agony of the cross has been replaced by the ecstasy of the Resurrection. Morin Bishop, Woman's Day, "What’s an Easter Sunrise Service? Here's Everything You Need to Know," 22 Mar. 2019 Terrified and in agony over her closeted life, J.J. attempted suicide, and the entire game is a sort of near-death fever dream where J.J.’s identity swims between liminal spaces — closeted and out, alive and dead, whole and in literal pieces. Julie Muncy, The Verge, "This queer horror game forces you to literally tear yourself apart," 8 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of agony

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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 -y entry 2 — more at agent

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Statistics for agony

Last Updated

30 May 2019

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Time Traveler for agony

The first known use of agony was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for agony

agony

noun

English Language Learners Definition of agony

: extreme mental or physical pain

agony

noun
ag·​o·​ny | \ ˈa-gə-nē How to pronounce agony (audio) \
plural agonies

Kids Definition of agony

: great physical pain or emotional distress

agony

noun
ag·​o·​ny | \ ˈag-ə-nē How to pronounce agony (audio) \
plural agonies

Medical Definition of agony

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on agony

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for agony

Spanish Central: Translation of agony

Nglish: Translation of agony for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of agony for Arabic Speakers

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