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

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 Ukraine has been a particular source of antagonism between the two hierarchs. New York Times, 18 Apr. 2022 And those forces’ arrival comes at a time of rising antagonism between Belarus and Ukraine. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2022 In 2013, Wardle helped make a game that was like a combination of a summer-camp color war and a social-psychology study of out-group antagonism. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 Eventually, hate crime laws were widely adopted around the country, creating the possibility of longer sentences for those whose crimes were motivated by antagonism against the group to which the victim(s) belonged. John Torpey, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Today, after years of antagonism, the insurgent forces that battled the establishment ranks at the Paris hotel-casino have prevailed and now run Nevada’s Democratic Party. Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2022 But by framing the antagonism as a clash of civilizations, Biden is playing to China’s strengths. Ian Buruma, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 Already one thing is different: the usual antagonism between New York City’s mayor and the state’s governor. Fortune, 4 Jan. 2022 That antagonism is growing, though, because of concentrated campaigns on one side of the political spectrum, Huffaker said. Palak Jayswal, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of antagonism was in 1716

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Antagonism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for antagonism


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

More from Merriam-Webster on antagonism

Nglish: Translation of antagonism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antagonism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about antagonism


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