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

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Synonyms for antagonize


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Examples of antagonize in a Sentence

He didn't mean to antagonize you. Her comments antagonized many people.
Recent Examples on the Web Biden is the first U.S. president to make such an announcement, breaking with predecessors who did not wish to antagonize Turkey, a NATO ally and a strategically pivotal country straddling Europe and the Middle East., "Here’s why Biden’s recognition of genocide against Armenians matters," 24 Apr. 2021 Netanyahu’s possible desire to antagonize the Iranians and disrupt negotiations is only one wrinkle in the tangled politics surrounding the nuclear talks. Washington Post, "Israel plays spoiler in Biden’s Iran gambit," 14 Apr. 2021 There are many authoritarian governments that do not antagonize the U.S. in these domains. Michael Kimmage, The New Republic, "How Biden Can Achieve a Russian Restoration," 26 Jan. 2021 Moving its major from Trump National has been debated internally at the PGA for more than two years, but executives have been reluctant to antagonize a famously vindictive man who controls the Internal Revenue Service. Eamon Lynch, Detroit Free Press, "Donald Trump is a scar on the game of golf: Opinion," 10 Jan. 2021 That served to alienate and antagonize nearly half the country and heighten the tribal instincts that are poisoning American politics. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Biden Needs a Conciliatory Tone," 16 Dec. 2020 Because Elena’s family lacks real development, and the police seem to needlessly antagonize Grace, the show risks asking viewers to root for the Frasers, who get to keep their hands clean by paying others to do much of their dirty work. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "On TV, Having Wealth Means You Get to Suffer Beautifully," 27 Oct. 2020 Yes, to antagonize Iran's hawks and make diplomacy less likely to succeed. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Iran suffers more humiliation with killing of nuclear chief. But no one in the world's most febrile region wants war," 28 Nov. 2020 Her letter appeared designed not to antagonize Mr. Trump and his supporters. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "Trump Administration Approves Start of Formal Transition to Biden," 23 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for antagonize

Time Traveler

The first known use of antagonize was circa 1742

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Statistics for antagonize

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antagonize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for antagonize



English Language Learners Definition of antagonize

: to cause (someone) to feel hostile or angry : to irritate or upset (someone)


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

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