antagonist

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 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

Ligado’s antagonists are sprinkled throughout the space, defense and aviation communities. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Is Airwave Nimbyism Holding Back 5G?," 7 Dec. 2018 Ed Speleers is set to play Stephen Bonnet, a pirate, smuggler and all-around antagonist to Jamie and Claire. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outlander Season 4: Everything We Know," 26 Oct. 2018 As past Trump antagonists like Senator Ted Cruz and [Paul] Ryan ... seem to have concluded for themselves, admission to the head table of Republican politics in 2018 carries a membership fee: making peace with the president, however unpleasant. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: North Korea summit prep encapsulates Trump’s winging-it presidency," 11 June 2018 Trump had instead leaned into painting anyone who isn’t a white man—or an especially fervent supporter of white men—as an antagonist. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "We're Living in a Time of Cruel Laughing Men," 17 Oct. 2018 Mahathir long seemed to relish his role as an antagonist to the West. Adam Schreck, The Seattle Times, "AP Interview: Malaysia’s Mahathir aims to scrap China deals," 14 Aug. 2018 Carnage is about as great an antagonist as Venom has. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "A Eulogy for a Fallen Spider-Man Character," 31 May 2018 Of these, 131,708 received antibiotics, 60,209 got histamine-2 receptor antagonists and 13,687 were given proton pump inhibitors. Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, "Giving Babies Antibiotics or Antacids May Increase Allergy Risk," 2 Apr. 2018 HoggWatch hammers home many of the same conspiracy theories and inflammatory political talking points pushed by Natural News and InfoWars, but uses the Parkland student as a central antagonist. NBC News, "As mainstream pundits apologize, fringe sites cash in on attacking Parkland teens," 2 Apr. 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

4 Jan 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 \

Kids Definition of antagonist

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

antagonist

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 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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