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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Others express anguish over his companies' aggressive dealings with tenants, particularly through assembly-line evictions. Kevin Crowe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'He'll evict you in a minute.' Landlord quietly becomes a force in Milwaukee rental business...and eviction court," 13 July 2018 Another 869 people were injured, nearly half of them by gunfire or shrapnel, on top of countless others carrying the mental anguish that comes from living through the harrowing carnage and the confusion that came with the attack. Mark Berman, The Seattle Times, "One year later, mystery of Las Vegas massacre remains," 1 Oct. 2018 Don’t underestimate or feel bad about the emotional toll and mental anguish that accompanies IVF. Pamela Tsigdinos, Marie Claire, "The Wild World of IVF, Explained," 1 Oct. 2018 Despite the anguish suffered by so many Catholics, only a few bishops resigned in the wake of the abuse crisis in this country. James Martin, WSJ, "The Missing Link in Sex-Abuse Reform," 20 May 2018 Few words are spoken but the anguish is right there on their faces. Michael Sangiacomo,, "Avengers Infinity War, shocking set up for the new Marvel Cinematic Universe (photos)," 25 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Well, for folks that are anguished or angry at this day, my urging is vote. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "12 senators on what kind of message Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation sends to America’s women," 7 Oct. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anguish

Statistics for anguish

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anguish

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for anguish


an·​guish | \ˈaŋ-gwish \

Kids Definition of anguish

: great physical or emotional pain

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on anguish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anguish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for anguish

Spanish Central: Translation of anguish

Nglish: Translation of anguish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anguish for Arabic Speakers

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).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!