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

For years, the country has struggled to sever its Soviet republic roots and emerge from the shadow of Russia, its neighbor and perennial antagonist. David Segal, New York Times, "High in His ‘Glassle,’ Georgia’s Richest Man Looms Over Country’s Top Project," 2 July 2019 The results are only so-so as Tony Stark tussles with PTSD, criminally underused antagonist Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and yawn-worthy villain Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Every Marvel superhero movie, definitively ranked (including 'Spider-Man: Far From Home')," 30 June 2019 Now a retired firefighter is giving out free doses of an opioid antagonist naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan. Austen Erblat, sun-sentinel.com, "Retired firefighter trying to combat overdose epidemic with free classes and Narcan spray," 28 June 2019 Seeing as both Hobbs and Shaw have filled the antagonist role in past Fast & Furious films, this outing needed a foe who was big enough, bad enough, and threatening enough to unite these two frenemies. Devan Coggan, EW.com, "Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba gear up for Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw," 27 June 2019 Former antagonists Environmental League of Massachusetts and Associated Industries of Massachusetts have joined forces for a greater good: improving public transportation while curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s true: Environmental and business groups are on the same page," 21 June 2019 An antagonist named Octavo is causing trouble in Hyrule and players must defeat his four champions: instruments that were mutated into monsters. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Cadence of Hyrule’ moves to its own ‘Zelda’ beat," 21 June 2019 Or higher education, which currently fosters a careerist individualism in millions who could be taught to see one another as partners in and with their institutions rather than masters, clients or antagonists of them. Trygve Throntveit, Washington Post, "The message of these ‘civic sermons’: Have faith in your fellow Americans," 14 June 2019 While potentially amusing antagonists like Carolina and Danny are flattened by charmless performances, the show wastes its best actors–Bichir, Robinson, Adorno–in bland roles. Judy Berman, Time, "ABC's Charmless Grand Hotel Will Leave You Desperate to Check Out," 13 June 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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Learn More about antagonist

Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

5 Jul 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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