an·guish | \ˈaŋ-gwish \

Definition of anguish 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: extreme pain, distress, or anxiety cries of anguish mental anguish


anguished; anguishing; anguishes

Definition of anguish (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to suffer anguish He anguished over his failure.

transitive verb

: to cause to suffer anguish a heart that had been anguished with sorrow

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Choose the Right Synonym for anguish


sorrow, grief, anguish, woe, regret mean distress of mind. sorrow implies a sense of loss or a sense of guilt and remorse. a family united in sorrow upon the patriarch's death grief implies poignant sorrow for an immediate cause. the inexpressible grief of the bereaved parents anguish suggests torturing grief or dread. the anguish felt by the parents of the kidnapped child woe is deep or inconsolable grief or misery. cries of woe echoed throughout the bombed city regret implies pain caused by deep disappointment, fruitless longing, or unavailing remorse. nagging regret for missed opportunities

Examples of anguish in a Sentence


He experienced the anguish of divorce after 10 years of marriage. They watched in anguish as fire spread through the house.


she was anguished by the fear that her sons would die in the war I anguished over the loss of my father for years afterwards.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At just before 9 Sunday night, Brad Ziegler struck out Scott Schebler to end a baseball game stuck somewhere between pain and anguish. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty column: Have the 2018 Cincinnati Reds finally reached rock bottom?," 7 May 2018 Despite his eloquent expression of anguish, Brady was not without hope. Longreads, "The Bungled Bank Robbery That Ended in a Landmark Legal Ruling," 26 June 2018 Beyond the anguish is, often, simply bafflement: How did the most ubiquitous man in America for eight years virtually disappear? Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Where Is Barack Obama?," 24 June 2018 Despite the anguish in its messages, the infectious percussion and booming guitar twangs offer community, love, even dancing as an answer to the status quo. Eve Barlow, GQ, "Parquet Courts Are Here to Thrash," 7 May 2018 My heart goes out to each and every one who has suffered so much pain, anguish, and loss by virtue of this senseless act of violence. ... Lisa J. Huriash,, "Mom of Parkland shooting victim stunned by $36,000 bill for urgent flight," 1 May 2018 England fans have experienced both delight and anguish in the prolonged time leading up to the eventual implementation of goal line technology., "Why VAR is a Step in the Right Direction for Football Despite the Continued Scrutiny," 12 July 2018 The lawyers will argue that the children should be reunified with their parents on the basis of due process and the fact that keeping the children from their families is causing them mental anguish, sleepless nights and PTSD. Kathleen Mcwilliams,, "Court To Hear Arguments In Case Of Two Children Held In Connecticut Separated From Their Parents At The Border," 11 July 2018 Crossno and Thompson's attorney, Stacy Miller, told The News & Observer his clients were each were awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages for flights, hotels and mental anguish, pain and suffering. Colin Stutz, Billboard, "Fyre Fest Founder Billy McFarland Loses $5M Lawsuit to Two Attendees," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ashby told Folwer, and the two of them allegedly anguished over whether to tell their daughter. Sarah Gray, Time, " Revealed This Woman's Father Was Her Family’s Fertility Doctor. Now She's Suing," 4 Apr. 2018 The band’s older, earlier records were a little heavier and more abrasive, sometimes bringing to mind bands like the Jesus Lizard, with pounding music and anguished, howling vocals. John Adamian,, "Seven Concerts You Might Want To See (And Why)," 9 June 2018 Jessica Fisch's staging is as deft as the script, thanks in large part to Laura Lapidus's complex Lina and Darci Nalepa's anguished but never maudlin Jessie. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "In Cry It Out, four new parents learn what to expect when they're no longer expecting," 23 May 2018 The mother of a student who survived the Sante Fe High School shooting, which left 10 dead in Texas, has written a long, anguished Facebook post about her experience. Kate Leaver, Teen Vogue, "A Santa Fe Survivor's Mother Wrote a Moving Facebook Post About Experiencing the Texas School Shooting," 22 May 2018 Jarryn’s mother, Suzanne Yorty, was anguished, but not shocked at the fate of her high school sweetheart. Aubrey Whelan,, "To fight opioid overdoses in a rural Pa. county, prosecutors charge drug dealers," 11 May 2018 This friend had lain face down in the Garden of Gethsemane, anguishing over the events that would inevitably unfold. Atlanta Life, ajc, "Crucifixion still happening in the world today," 23 Mar. 2018 Others are anguished because their pregnancy is a result of assault or rape. Guest Columnist/,, "Download your dependence on gadgets and get back in touch with you: Jim Kargakos (Opinion)," 18 Mar. 2018 Payette County Jail Dressed in a red jail jumpsuit, Verwer at times appeared anguished during Wednesday’s hearing. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Driver charged with mowing down newlyweds in Fruitland acted strangely, witnesses say | Idaho Statesman," 15 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anguish.' 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 anguish


13th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for anguish


Middle English angwisshe, from Anglo-French anguisse, angoisse, from Latin angustiae, plural, straits, distress, from angustus narrow; akin to Old English enge narrow — more at anger


see anguish entry 1

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Statistics for anguish

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for anguish

The first known use of anguish was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for anguish


an·guish | \ˈaŋ-gwish \

Kids Definition of anguish

: great physical or emotional pain

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Comments on anguish

What made you want to look up anguish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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