an·​guish | \ ˈaŋ-gwish How to pronounce anguish (audio) \

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

While earlier research has suggested a link between climate change and suicide, specifically climate-related disasters like drought, the driver was generally thought to be something deeper, like anguish over a financial loss. Kurtis Alexander, The Seattle Times, "Global warming will increase suicides, researchers say," 23 July 2018 Do not take a single nickel from any Hollywood admirer who has been as moved and inspired as the rest of America by your primal scream of anguish for 17 of your classmates and teachers. Ronnie Polaneczky,, "Turn down Hollywood money, Parkland. You don't need it | Ronnie Polaneczky," 23 Feb. 2018 Osborne: The president's immediate reaction was, of course, a look of anguish. Margaret Lazarus Dean, Popular Mechanics, "The Oral History of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster," 28 Jan. 2019 Without falling onto the floor or waking up in anguish demanding to hop into bed with Mommy and Daddy. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "My Daughter Wouldn't Sleep Away From Home Until We Got This Toddler Travel Bed," 4 Jan. 2019 Henry said Zagorski’s decision is based on evidence that Tennessee’s lethal injection method would cause him 10 to 18 minutes of mental and physical anguish. Travis Loller, The Seattle Times, "Lawyer: Inmate’s choice of electric chair won’t buy him time," 9 Oct. 2018 The lawsuit says the boy suffers pain and will have a lifetime of mental anguish. Fox News, "Georgia jury awards $31M over boy's botched circumcision," 25 Sep. 2018 Meanwhile, the two daughters have their own anguish to deal with, all pricked out by Ms. Hadley with her characteristic acuity. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, "‘Late in the Day’ Review: And Then They Were Three," 11 Jan. 2019 In the end, perhaps the waves of emotion — her anguish, his anger — canceled each other out. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Anguish vs. anger: Raw emotion rules as Ford, Kavanaugh press their cases," 28 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Nearby, a pair of pitchers depict agonizing scenes from the Trojan Wars: Achilles dragging Hector; Priam anguished on the battlements; Achilles hit in the heel. Melik Kaylan, WSJ, "‘Devotion and Decadence: The Berthouville Treasure and Roman Luxury From the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’ Review: Shining Silver From an Untarnished Trove," 31 Oct. 2018 While the Democratic House anguished over articles of impeachment and wasted time on showboat-y oversight hearings, Trump could lament their obstruction and radicalism. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "No, free market conservatives are not becoming Dems," 31 July 2018 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

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for anguish

Last Updated

2 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce anguish (audio) \

Kids Definition of anguish

: great physical or emotional pain

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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).


something valued as if it were money

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