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

His antagonism of Trump led to him abandoning his 2018 re-election bid. Jeannette Hinkle, azcentral, "Jeff Flake calls on Republicans to condemn Trump tweets or risk losing in 2020," 15 July 2019 Back when Steve Spurrier was leading the Gators and Dennis Erickson was in charge of the Hurricanes, the two coaching friends would bond over this mutual antagonism — especially since Florida and Miami weren't meeting on an annual basis. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "A lot is on the line when Florida and Miami (Fla.) renew rivalry in college football opener," 22 Aug. 2019 Many of Mr Trump’s policies hurt them in this respect, says another investment-bank boss, for example his interference with antitrust policy and trade antagonism with China. The Economist, "What Wall Street thinks of Elizabeth Warren," 1 Aug. 2019 The trade flap is an extra irritant in the troubled relationship between the two neighbors, which has long been strained by antagonisms left over from Japan’s brutal colonialization of the Korean peninsula in 1910-1945. Washington Post, "Japan likely to tighten SKorean export curbs in late Aug," 26 July 2019 This has happened on three occasions over the span of just a few days, each case captured on video — expressions either of impish seasonal boredom or deeper, more meaningful antagonisms. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, "Eric Garner, Soaked Officers and the Tilted Scales of Justice," 25 July 2019 There was, in that serenely contained antagonism of hers, something distinctly glamorous—no small advantage, and a rare one for an aspirant to high office. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "Kamala Harris’s Debate Victory Proves Pyrrhic," 10 July 2019 But Geto Boys’ dank, hooky antagonism stayed in the spotlight. August Brown,, "Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill dies: Morbid, provocative — an unlikely hip-hop legend," 10 June 2019 This moment in history teaches us that democracy has always implicitly depended on political leaders hewing to democratic norms rather than sowing antagonism against society’s vulnerable for political gain and labeling press criticism as fake news. Marc J. Hetherington, Vox, "How you think about raising children says a lot about your political views," 29 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for antagonism

Last Updated

12 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antagonism

The first known use of antagonism was in 1716

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More Definitions for antagonism



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).


to spread over or through

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