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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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 Destiny 2 has been building up Savathun as an antagonist for years. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 Let no one deny that Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula has earned its literary immortality — even as, while reading it, one fervently hopes for the mortality of its titular vampiric antagonist. Sarah Schutte, National Review, 6 Sep. 2021 Knuckles first appeared as an antagonist in the 1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 before becoming friends with Sonic and Tails. Alexia Fernández, PEOPLE.com, 13 Aug. 2021 Jamie Tartt, the egotistical wunderkind striker who clashed with Lasso in the first season, hardly qualifies as an antagonist. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 10 Aug. 2021 But there's yet another star in this show, one that both the government and tech companies see as the antagonist: China. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 21 June 2021 Statham's Deckard Shaw, the vengeful brother of Fast 6 antagonist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Derek Lawrence, EW.com, 21 Apr. 2021 Steeped in absurdist ideas, the existentialist comedy presents the actress as Caterine Vauban, a sort of antagonist whose nihilistic views on life go against widespread optimism. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2021 Shawn speaks across species with his acrobatic timbre, using his off-kilter imagination and knack for comically prurient description: Blanche, a cat, is Ben’s most ardent lover, and also a kind of wordless antagonist. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 19 July 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near antagonist

antagonism

antagonist

antagonistic

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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

21 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antagonist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antagonist. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on antagonist

Nglish: Translation of antagonist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antagonist for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about antagonist

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