an·​tag·​o·​nize | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌnīz How to pronounce antagonize (audio) \
antagonized; antagonizing

Definition of antagonize

transitive verb

1 : to incur or provoke the hostility of His criticism antagonized his friends.
2 : to act in opposition to : counteract The drug is antagonized by methylxanthines, such as caffeine and theophylline …Scientific American Medicine

Synonyms for antagonize


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of antagonize in a Sentence

He didn't mean to antagonize you. Her comments antagonized many people.
Recent Examples on the Web The United States has attempted to keep its intelligence-sharing operations with Ukraine under wraps so as not to antagonize Russia into more aggressive action, the Times reported. Zachary Snowdon Smith, Forbes, 5 May 2022 At the time, critics cautioned that NATO enlargement would antagonize a post-Soviet Russia and could end up worsening the European security order. Peter Harris, The Conversation, 24 Mar. 2022 The Soviets and Chinese were ideological allies at the time, and Khrushchev clearly did not want to antagonize Mao by helping India. WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 Finland shares the European Union’s longest border with Russia, a key factor in its decision not to antagonize Moscow by joining NATO. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, 1 Mar. 2022 Commentators have noted that the pope and the Vatican have been careful about publicly criticizing and naming Russia, some say, so as not to antagonize the Russian Orthodox Church. Phoebe Natanson, ABC News, 25 Feb. 2022 The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that Russia could invade Ukraine soon, but U.S. officials had previously said the Kremlin would likely wait until after the Winter Games ended so as not to antagonize China. Jim Heintz And Aamer Madhani, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Feb. 2022 Clearly, Biden did not wish to further antagonize the Russian leader. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 2 Mar. 2022 Dickens also aggressively courted Duncan, Gov. Brian Kemp and key legislative leaders — while steering clear of divisive partisan issues that would antagonize Republicans. Greg Bluestein, ajc, 19 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antagonize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of antagonize

circa 1742, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for antagonize

Greek antagōnizesthai, from anti- + agōnizesthai to struggle, from agōn contest — more at agony

Learn More About antagonize

Time Traveler for antagonize

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonize was circa 1742

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near antagonize

antagonistic symbiosis



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for antagonize

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Antagonize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for antagonize


an·​tag·​o·​nize | \ an-ˈta-gə-ˌnīz How to pronounce antagonize (audio) \
antagonized; antagonizing

Kids Definition of antagonize

: to stir up dislike or anger in The bully antagonizes younger kids.


transitive verb
variants: also British antagonise \ an-​ˈtag-​ə-​ˌnīz How to pronounce antagonize (audio) \
antagonized also British antagonised; antagonizing also British antagonising

Medical Definition of antagonize

: to act in antagonism to : counteract these effects are antagonized by atropine— Ernest Bueding & Harry Most

More from Merriam-Webster on antagonize

Nglish: Translation of antagonize for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!