antagonist

noun
an·tag·o·nist | \an-ˈta-gə-nist \

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

adversary, enemy, foe, hostile, opponent

Antonyms

amigo, friend

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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

But while Sorry to Bother You’s antagonist may be Hammer’s Lift, Riley is less concerned with villains than systems. Joseph Bien-kahn, WIRED, "Radical As Ever, Boots Riley Takes On the Tech Boom," 4 July 2018 Even in the 2002 primary, when former mayor Anthony A. Williams — a Barry antagonist without a strong base of support east of the river — was running for reelection as an overwhelming favorite, the ward’s turnout was 24 percent. Peter Jamison, Washington Post, "Are D.C.’s poorest neighborhoods falling off the electoral map?," 29 June 2018 But China is perhaps too distant, both geographically and culturally, to serve as a readily comprehensible antagonist. Peter Slezkine, The New Republic, "What Happened to the “Free World”?," 22 May 2018 Last week, former Republican House Speaker and (until now) career-long marijuana antagonist John Boehner joined the board of marijuana cultivation company Acreage Holdings. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: Marijuana Health Effects, Biogen Ionis Deal, Google's AI Reach," 20 Apr. 2018 But while Exxon is eager to strengthen its ties to Qatar, the company also wishes to keep options open with Doha’s antagonists. Sarah Mcfarlane And Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Qatar in Talks on U.S. Shale Deal," 11 Apr. 2018 And that’s great for golf, great for his fans, great for networks carrying his tournaments, great for columnists and Dan Jenkins (Tiger’s chief antagonist), talk shows, America, just great for a troubled world in general. Nick Canepa, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Tiger Woods is back if back holds up, and that’s great news," 17 Mar. 2018 Many players only train up the easily visible Quadriceps but forget the Hamstrings in the back, leading to an agonist/antagonist imbalance that results in excess strain on the weaker hamstrings. SI.com, "Injury Analysis: Everything You Need to Know About Dybala’s Hamstring Injury in 1 Minute," 7 Jan. 2018 This is your first time playing a true movie villain, not just an antagonist like in Social Network or Nocturnal Animals. Morgan Baila, refinery29.com, "Armie Hammer On Playing The Year's Most Eccentric Villain & The Necessity Of Tracksuits," 29 June 2018

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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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

27 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antagonist

The first known use of antagonist was in 1555

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More Definitions for antagonist

antagonist

noun

English Language Learners Definition of antagonist

: a person who opposes another person

antagonist

noun
an·tag·o·nist | \an-ˈta-gə-nəst \

Kids Definition of antagonist

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

antagonist

noun
an·tag·o·nist | \-nəst \

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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