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

The two governments are heirs to antagonists from China’s civil war last century. Eva Dou, WSJ, "Taiwan’s President Criticizes China in Speech, Calls for Support for Island," 10 Oct. 2018 On the front of her sweater was a knit graphic of Pinhead, the antagonist from the Hellraiser horror series. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Kaia Gerber Wears a Pinhead Tee and Pajama Pants," 4 Oct. 2018 This time, though, the antagonists will be doubled, and the once great enemies will be allies. refinery29.com, "Billions Season 3 Finale Recap: "The Death Zone"," 11 June 2018 If no clear antagonist is around, one can be made to appear, taking the heat for a whole history of building anger. New York Times, "News of an ‘Outrage’ Used to Mean Something Very, Very Different," 23 May 2018 The antagonist is, of course, the would-be robber, who steps into a butcher shop-slash-convenience store more gangling than gangster. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "A gunman held up a butcher shop. He didn’t count on a man in a cowboy hat.," 25 Apr. 2018 And then our antagonists, our critics, used it to manipulate us. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Is the media making American politics worse?," 22 Oct. 2018 Which meant that his antagonists, from Bob Corker to Robert Mueller, from Chuck Schumer to Elizabeth Warren, from the media to the NFL, from Ayatollah Khamenei to Xi Jinping, were on defense. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Candidates still count," 24 Aug. 2018 Local antagonist Grax figures out that the physicist, Dr. Victor St. Grand, knows how to refine Nova, leading to St. Grand being taken along with your mothership’s core. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Starlink: Battle for Atlas review: Cool toys, solid spacefaring," 16 Oct. 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

15 Mar 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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