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 At the second trial Bostwick improved his own performance as Masson’s antagonist. Janet Malcolm, The New York Review of Books, "A Second Chance," 8 Sep. 2020 Schlossberg explains: Kreese is most likely referring to Terry Silver, his fellow Vietnam soldier and toxic waste tycoon who financed Cobra Kai and played a co-antagonist with Kreese in The Karate Kid III. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "12 Karate Kid Easter eggs in Cobra Kai and the stories behind them," 4 Sep. 2020 Ramses Jimenez is the film's antagonist, a neighborhood drug dealer hellbent on poaching Ito as one of his criminal minions. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "John Leguizamo hopes Critical Thinking will help change the game for BIPOC talent in Hollywood," 3 Sep. 2020 Immediately after the live-action show was announced, Mojo Jojo began trending on Twitter, with fans eager but mostly terrified to see the CW's lifelike depiction of the show’s mutant chimpanzee antagonist. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "The Powerpuff Girls Are Jaded & Over It In New Live Action TV Series," 24 Aug. 2020 Meanwhile, Paul Dano plays The Riddler, and the trailer sees the antagonist sending copious notes and riddles to Batman. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz Face Off in the First The Batman Trailer," 23 Aug. 2020 The primary antagonist, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), has his own issues with his son, Scott, brought to life with gusto by Seth Green. Dave Schilling, The New Yorker, "The Criterion Channel Presents the Legendary Director Peter Bogdanovich on the Lasting Influence of “Austin Powers in Goldmember”," 22 Aug. 2020 William Perry Pendley, the former oil-industry lawyer and vocal public-land antagonist, has been withdrawn as the Trump Administration’s pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Andrew Mckean, Outdoor Life, "Breaking: Trump Administration Withdraws Pendley as Nominee for BLM Director," 15 Aug. 2020 This logic assumes both that ginning up anti-China sentiment can lend itself to a set of broadly progressive goals, and that an essential missing link to achieving them has been the lack of a foreign antagonist. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "We Can’t Fight Climate Change Without China," 12 Aug. 2020

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

Time Traveler for antagonist

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonist was in 1555

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Statistics for antagonist

Last Updated

20 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Antagonist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antagonist. Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for antagonist

antagonist

noun
How to pronounce antagonist (audio)

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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