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

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

Initially appearing a hair more refined than his troops, Claflin's ambitious Hawkins is an atrocious antagonist who only becomes more reprehensible as the movie continues. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "'The Nightingale' is a disturbingly brutal meditation on revenge from 'Babadook' filmmaker," 21 Aug. 2019 Once the protagonist and antagonist are in motion, the urge to know the final resolution is powerful. John Warner, chicagotribune.com, "Can you put down ‘The Chain’ by Adrian McKinty? Biblioracle John Warner tests the hype.," 14 July 2019 These fright fests – which, interestingly, lean very female in terms of protagonists and antagonists – scare up decent box office, too: Four of the six so far have topped $100 million. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "All 'The Conjuring' horror movies, ranked (including new 'Annabelle Comes Home')," 25 June 2019 The Toy Story franchise, which now spans nearly a full quarter-century, is at its strongest when the core ensemble of toys who originated in the bedroom of a little boy named Andy serve as both protagonist and antagonist. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Toy Story 4' Surprises With Its Villain," 22 June 2019 Miller’s aged and armored Caped Crusader delivers bloody blows with his fists and spiked boots to the jaw of a Superman serving as a by-the-book antagonist. David Betancourt, Washington Post, "In ‘Superman: Year One,’ Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. reimagine the hero as a Navy SEAL and the ‘ultimate immigrant’," 20 June 2019 Miller’s aged and armored Caped Crusader delivers bloody blows with his fists and spiked boots to the jaw of a Superman serving as a by-the-book antagonist. David Betancourt, Twin Cities, "In ‘Superman: Year One,’ the hero is reimagined as a Navy SEAL," 19 June 2019 However, his profile as an Obama antagonist and Trump supporter likely would be a boon in Hunter’s 50th District, where Trump won by 15 points. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Hunter’s legal predicament goes from bad to much worse. What are the GOP’s options?," 16 June 2019 Surprisingly, the video’s other star — and arguably its antagonist — Jon Gruden also approved. BostonGlobe.com, "a video hyping Brown’s preseason workouts in Oakland," 11 Sep. 2019

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

11 Oct 2019

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 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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Comments on antagonist

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