ex·​as·​per·​ate | \ ig-ˈza-spə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exasperate (audio) \
exasperated; exasperating

Definition of exasperate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to cause irritation or annoyance to It's a conundrum for any playwright: How do you enliven characters who alternately bore and exasperate each other?— Michael Phillips It's a demanding dining experience that may exhaust and exasperate some customers …— Thomas Matthews … they are just like any brothers who love and exasperate each other in equal measure …— Allison Glock
b : to excite the anger of : enrage She did show favour to the youth in your sight only to exasperate you, to awake your dormouse valour, to put fire in your heart and brimstone in your liver.— William Shakespeare … no doubt he thought that such rigorous discipline as that might exasperate five hundred emigrants into an insurrection.— Herman Melville
2 obsolete : to make more grievous : aggravate


ex·​as·​per·​ate | \ ig-ˈza-sp(ə-)rət How to pronounce exasperate (audio) \

Definition of exasperate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : irritated or annoyed especially to the point of injudicious action : exasperated
2 : roughened with irregular prickles or elevations exasperate seed coats

Choose the Right Synonym for exasperate


irritate, exasperate, nettle, provoke, rile, peeve mean to excite a feeling of anger or annoyance. irritate implies an often gradual arousing of angry feelings that may range from mere impatience to rage. constant nagging that irritated me greatly exasperate suggests galling annoyance and the arousing of extreme impatience. his exasperating habit of putting off needed decisions nettle suggests a sharp but passing annoyance or stinging. your pompous attitude nettled several people provoke implies an arousing of strong annoyance that may excite to action. remarks made solely to provoke her rile implies inducing an angry or resentful agitation. the new work schedules riled the employees peeve suggests arousing fretful often petty or querulous irritation. a toddler peeved at being refused a cookie

Did you know?

Exasperate comes from Latin exasperare, whose base, asper, means "rough." A relative of asper is asperity, which can refer to the roughness of a surface or the roughness of someone's temper. Another is spurn, meaning "to reject."

The Difference Between Exasperate and Exacerbate

Lest you wish to exasperate your readers, you should take care not to confuse exasperate with the similar-sounding exacerbate, another Latin-derived verb that means "to make worse," as in "Their refusal to ask for help only exacerbated the problem."

Examples of exasperate in a Sentence

Verb The criticism of his latest movie is sure to exasperate his admirers. We were exasperated by the delays.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bubbles also cause the dispensed product to expand, which is why your Slurpee or your Icee or your Arctic Blast inflates a bit after pouring, sometimes up and out of the domed lid to exasperate your parents. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 30 Apr. 2022 Simpson’s funny and moving tale is more successful, though its ambling pace and episodic structure may exasperate lovers of tight narrative. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2022 But none of these disputes appeared to mean as much to the UAE — or more exasperate the Americans — as the failure to publicly show up in the Emirati hour of need. Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2022 This weekend’s weather pattern, with its clear skies and early season heat, will only exasperate the situation by heating the ground and siphoning away more of its precious water moisture content. Tom Sater, CNN, 24 Mar. 2022 Voting restrictions, like those outlined in Senate Bill 90, can exasperate health disparities. Laken Brooks, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 His suggestions sometimes exasperate the garden designers, who have their own vision of where things should be. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2021 Without enough rescue animals to go around, organizations wind up fielding dozens of applications for a single dog, incentivizing some groups to put up maddeningly high adoption barriers that exclude and exasperate capable guardians. BostonGlobe.com, 27 Oct. 2021 Filograna described it more as a giggle, which doesn’t exasperate opponents as much as Forsythe’s playmaking ability. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, 22 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of exasperate


1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exasperate


Latin exasperatus, past participle of exasperare, from ex- + asper rough — more at asperity

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The first known use of exasperate was in 1534

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Cite this Entry

“Exasperate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exasperate. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for exasperate


ex·​as·​per·​ate | \ ig-ˈza-spə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exasperate (audio) \
exasperated; exasperating

Kids Definition of exasperate

: to make angry

More from Merriam-Webster on exasperate

Nglish: Translation of exasperate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of exasperate for Arabic Speakers


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