antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nist How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Definition of antagonist

1 : one that contends with or opposes another : adversary, opponent political antagonists
2 : an agent of physiological antagonism: such as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (such as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2b

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Synonyms & Antonyms for antagonist

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Did You Know?

On the stage or screen, in a story or a novel, the protagonist is the main character and the antagonist is the opposing one. Pro- and ant- usually mark the good and bad characters, but not always; there may occasionally be an evil protagonist and a good antagonist. In the drama of the real world, it's especially hard to sort out which is which, so we usually speak of both parties to a conflict as antagonists. During a strike, for example, representatives of labor and management become antagonists; they often manage to antagonize each other, and the antagonism often remains after the strike is over.

Examples of antagonist in a Sentence

They are interested in character first, and in Don, a foul-mouthed psychopath with a hair-trigger temper and buried longings for Gal's wife, they have created a truly scary antagonist. — David Ansen, Newsweek, 18 June 2001 In the 1970s researchers discovered that the actions of estrogen and other hormones can be blocked chemically by drugs called hormone antagonists — David Plotkin, Atlantic, June 1996 If the new comptroller is a true antagonist of the seamy bond market practices he decried in the campaign, why has he installed as his first deputy the public finance director from the Dinkins administration who was Holtzman's accomplice in each of those deals. — Wayne Barrett, Village Voice, March 1994 As in that film, Kopple not only draws an intimate portrait of the protagonists and antagonists in the strike, but also deftly locates the workers' struggle within a broad context of economic and political forces. — Frank Thompson, Film Comment, January/February 1991 please name the novel's hero and his antagonist his antagonist in the boxing match
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Recent Examples on the Web Wonder Woman, endowed by Aphrodite with eternal life, never ages, so Jenkins had a lot of choices for her antagonist. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "Does “Wonder Woman 1984” Hide Its Hero’s True Superpowers?," 25 Dec. 2020 Becerra has been a chief legal antagonist of President Trump, filing dozens of lawsuits challenging aspects of his administration's policies ranging from immigration to the environment. CBS News, "Pressure intensifies as Biden weighs 3 top Cabinet picks," 4 Dec. 2020 And that brings us to Israel, the antagonist presumed to be trying to push everyone into the fight. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Iran suffers more humiliation with killing of nuclear chief. But no one in the world's most febrile region wants war," 28 Nov. 2020 Dulcé Sloan's a hoot as Anna's lesbian best friend/fellow battler, Bella Thorne is the two-fisted mean-girl antagonist and Baldwin's the drunk coach who gets Anna in shape for the big match. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "What to stream this weekend: Netflix's holiday 'Jingle Jangle,' 'The Life Ahead' with Sophia Loren," 12 Nov. 2020 Becerra has been a constant antagonist to Trump policies, suing the administration more than 100 times since Becerra’s 2017 appointment over issues including healthcare, immigration and the environment. Patrick Mcgreevy, Los Angeles Times, "California needs a new top cop. Here’s what Gov. Gavin Newsom will consider," 13 Dec. 2020 Cuomo, a Democrat who is serving his third term as governor, has become a prominent antagonist to President Donald Trump's policies on Covid-19. NBC News, "Former adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo alleges he sexually harassed her 'for years'," 13 Dec. 2020 Narcos star Tenoch Huerta is also reportedly joining the film as an antagonist, but details of his role remain unknown. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Black Panther 2: Everything We Know About the Long-Awaited Sequel," 12 Dec. 2020 But the stars of the show are still Savage, playing both the set's protagonist and antagonist with equal aplomb, and Metro, directing the proceedings with Ridley Scott precision and Tony Scott explosiveness. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 20 Best Rap Albums of 2020: Staff Picks," 10 Dec. 2020

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

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for antagonist

see antagonize

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Time Traveler for antagonist

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonist was in 1555

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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antagonist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antagonist. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for antagonist

antagonist

noun
How to pronounce antagonist (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of antagonist

: a person who opposes another person

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ an-ˈta-gə-nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Kids Definition of antagonist

: a person who is against something or someone else : opponent

antagonist

noun
an·​tag·​o·​nist | \ -nəst How to pronounce antagonist (audio) \

Medical Definition of antagonist

: an agent that acts in physiological opposition contact between a tooth and its antagonist in the opposing jaw : as
a : a muscle that contracts with and limits the action of an agonist with which it is paired

called also antagonistic muscle

— compare agonist sense 1, synergist sense 2
b : a chemical that acts within the body to reduce the physiological activity of another chemical substance (as an opiate) especially : one that opposes the action on the nervous system of a drug or a substance occurring naturally in the body by combining with and blocking its nervous receptor — compare agonist sense 2

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