an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Definition of antagonism

1a : opposition of a conflicting force, tendency, or principle the antagonism of democracy to dictatorship
b : actively expressed opposition or hostility antagonism between factions personal antagonism
2 : opposition in physiological action especially : interaction of two or more substances such that the action of any one of them on living cells or tissues is lessened

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Choose the Right Synonym for antagonism

enmity, hostility, antipathy, antagonism, animosity, rancor, animus mean deep-seated dislike or ill will. enmity suggests positive hatred which may be open or concealed. an unspoken enmity hostility suggests an enmity showing itself in attacks or aggression. hostility between the two nations antipathy and antagonism imply a natural or logical basis for one's hatred or dislike, antipathy suggesting repugnance, a desire to avoid or reject, and antagonism suggesting a clash of temperaments leading readily to hostility. a natural antipathy for self-seekers antagonism between the brothers animosity suggests intense ill will and vindictiveness that threaten to kindle hostility. animosity that led to revenge rancor is especially applied to bitter brooding over a wrong. rancor filled every line of his letters animus adds to animosity the implication of strong prejudice. objections devoid of personal animus

Examples of antagonism in a Sentence

The region has a long history of ethnic antagonisms. the antagonism between them was so bad they couldn't even sit near each other
Recent Examples on the Web The bar isn't shy about promoting its antagonism toward the Arizona Wildcats: Anyone who wasn't an obvious Sun Devils fan would be asked to sing the ASU fight song at the door, The Arizona Republic reported when the bar opened in early 2018. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Goodbye College Bar. Here's why the Tempe sports bar near Sun Devil Stadium will close," 3 Dec. 2019 Similarly, Trudeau’s posture as an irritant to Trump may also work to the prime minister’s advantage, much as Richard Nixon’s antagonism to Trudeau’s father worked to his advantage. David Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "The good news for Justin Trudeau? He has Obama’s support and Trump’s scorn," 19 Oct. 2019 Relatives of those detained at Richwood said Hernandez-Diaz’s death is indicative of a culture of antagonism and abuse against detainees. USA Today, "Deaths in custody. Sexual violence. Hunger strikes. What we uncovered inside ICE facilities across the US," 20 Dec. 2019 The heart of The Conners rests in the sweet/sour antagonism between sisters Darlene and Becky (Lecy Goranson). Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Against the Odds, 'The Conners' Became Comfort TV," 16 Dec. 2019 Washington’s and the media’s tactics of twisted logic, unrelenting accusation, and defamation confirm the antagonism that Eastwood and Ray dramatize. Armond White, National Review, "Richard Jewell Is Eastwood’s History of the Future," 13 Dec. 2019 Trade wars and technology competition notwithstanding, there is one overarching global security concern that by its very nature should lead to collaboration and cooperation rather than Cold War antagonism: climate change. Robert Gottlieb, Time, "The U.S. and China Need to Put Aside Their Rivalry and Focus on the Common Enemy: Climate Change," 28 Oct. 2019 Bong exaggerates this for Millennials by inviting them to enjoy class antagonism through the comedy of the Ki-taeks defrauding the Parks. Armond White, National Review, "Parasite: Antifa Comedy for the Cancel-Culture Era," 11 Oct. 2019 The conclusion: antagonism can emerge from arbitrary divisions. The Economist, "Does your brain care about other people? It depends," 4 Nov. 2019

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

1716, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for antagonism

see antagonize

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Time Traveler for antagonism

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonism was in 1716

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Statistics for antagonism

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Antagonism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for antagonism


How to pronounce antagonism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of antagonism

: a strong feeling of dislike or hatred : a desire to oppose something you dislike or disagree with


an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Kids Definition of antagonism

: a strong feeling of dislike or disagreement


an·​tag·​o·​nism | \ an-ˈtag-ə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce antagonism (audio) \

Medical Definition of antagonism

: opposition in physiological action:
a : opposing action in the effect of contraction of muscles (as the extensors and flexors of a part)
b : interaction of two or more substances such that the action of any one of them on living cells or tissues is lessened (as by interference with the uptake or by an opposing physiological reaction) — compare synergism

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Comments on antagonism

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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