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

This is your first time playing a true movie villain, not just an antagonist like in Social Network or Nocturnal Animals. Morgan Baila, refinery29.com, "Armie Hammer On Playing The Year's Most Eccentric Villain & The Necessity Of Tracksuits," 29 June 2018 The $12 million move comes amid growing tensions over cybersecurity that pit the U.S. and some of its allies against their geopolitical antagonists, including Russia and China. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Kaspersky to Relocate Some Operations Out of Russia Amid Tampering Suspicions," 15 May 2018 His bet appears to be that voters will witness this showdown between Trump and his angry antagonists, and ultimately side with the president. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump turns to Europe’s far right as he detains Latin American children," 20 June 2018 Lamar didn’t use his position on the Xfinity Center’s stage to further castigate his news-media antagonists. Maura Johnston, BostonGlobe.com, "Kendrick Lamar takes the prize at the Xfinity Center," 6 June 2018 On this episode, both men had new antagonists to contend with. refinery29.com, "Billions Season 3, Episode 10 Recap: "Texas Roadkill Chili"," 28 May 2018 Such a villain also plays against the trend popularized by Black Panther, of having an antagonist with understandable motives. refinery29.com, "Mission Impossible: Fallout Is As Wild & Fun As Henry Cavill's Mustache," 12 July 2018 His antagonist, on the other hand, speaks for greed. James Hebert, sandiegouniontribune.com, "At Old Globe, 'The Lorax' brings Dr. Seuss' environmental saga to vivid life," 8 July 2018 Hammer, of the Ken Doll looks and multimillion-dollar inherited oil fortune, perfectly embodies the film’s antagonist. Joseph Bien-kahn, WIRED, "Radical As Ever, Boots Riley Takes On the Tech Boom," 4 July 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

13 Sep 2018

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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