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


embitter, empoison, envenom

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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

The best means of achieving control is to win back the hearts and minds of Hongkongers, not to continue to antagonize them. Time, "It Is Time for Democracy in Hong Kong," 2 July 2019 Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable., "Knitting website Ravelry bans users from showing Trump support, says it’s ‘support for white supremacy’," 23 June 2019 Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, who has since quit the group, previously said that an Antifa protester antagonized the Proud Boys. Zolan Kanno-youngs, WSJ, "Councilman Proposes Panel to Assess NYPD’s Handling of Hate Groups," 9 Jan. 2019 Backing down could antagonize China’s president, Xi Jinping, who’s seeking to bring Hong Kong into greater alignment with the mainland. Bloomberg News, The Mercury News, "Tear gas envelops Hong Kong as protesters flood the streets," 12 June 2019 Privately, people close to the president have conceded that assuring Mr. Trump that the investigation would end by a certain date was primarily aimed at keeping him from antagonizing Mr. Mueller on his Twitter feed or in interviews. Michael S. Schmidt And Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "In Russia Inquiry, Lawyers Tell Trump to Refuse Mueller Interview," 5 Feb. 2018 Even in the face of ugly details of Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying, Trump has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom and has been reluctant to antagonize the Saudi rulers. Susannah George, The Seattle Times, "US to revoke visas of Saudis implicated in killing of writer," 23 Oct. 2018 More important, the Western economic order, and the American dollar in particular, depends on Chinese goodwill far too much for statesmen to risk antagonizing Beijing with reckless rhetoric. Peter Slezkine, The New Republic, "What Happened to the “Free World”?," 22 May 2018 But while the broad strokes of the directive are alarming, many of the details are still unclear, and big tech companies seem to be holding their fire for fear of antagonizing regulators. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "Wikimedia calls EU copyright directive ‘a missed opportunity’," 12 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for antagonize

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antagonize

The first known use of antagonize was circa 1742

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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 antagonise (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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More from Merriam-Webster on antagonize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with antagonize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for antagonize

Spanish Central: Translation of antagonize

Nglish: Translation of antagonize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on antagonize

What made you want to look up antagonize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


characterized by aphorism

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