antagonist

play
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 2b

Examples of antagonist in a Sentence

  1. 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 AnsenNewsweek18 June 2001
  2. In the 1970s researchers discovered that the actions of estrogen and other hormones can be blocked chemically by drugs called hormone antagonists —David PlotkinAtlanticJune 1996
  3. 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 BarrettVillage VoiceMarch 1994
  4. 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 ThompsonFilm CommentJanuary/February 1991
  5. please name the novel's hero and his antagonist

  6. his antagonist in the boxing match

Recent Examples of antagonist from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of antagonist


ANTAGONIST Defined for English Language Learners

antagonist

play
noun

Definition of antagonist for English Language Learners

  • : a person who opposes another person


ANTAGONIST Defined for Kids

antagonist

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

Definition of antagonist for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

antagonist

play
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 1, synergist 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 2


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

alert quickness of mind or body

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!