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

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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

The Difference Between Exasperate and Exacerbate


Exasperate hangs with a rough crowd. It derives from exasperatus, the past participle of the Latin verb exasperare, which in turn was formed by combining ex- with asper, meaning "rough." Another descendant of asper in English is asperity, which can refer to the roughness of a surface or the roughness of someone's temper. Another relative, albeit a distant one, is the English word spurn, meaning "to reject." 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 Stress hormones such as cortisol can trigger breakouts, dull skin, accelerate aging and exasperate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 5 June 2021 Bars and restaurants in the city were allowed to reopen Friday at 2 p.m. with limited capacity — delighting many owners and patrons while exasperating others. Matt Piper, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 June 2020 That goes for the gooooooaaaaaaal of a soccer announcer, a teenager’s exasperated finallyyyyy, and a surfer’s aweeeeeesome. Matt Simon, Wired, 27 May 2020 Well, not the same guy, exactly: This guy is Brian (Wahlberg), the son of the retired Falcon, who regularly exasperates cyber-sidekick Dynomutt (Ken Jeong). Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 15 May 2020 Many Iraqis told journalists on the weekend that they were exasperated by the electoral system, characterized by a small coterie of establishment politicians who have pieced together winning coalitions by doling out political favors. Vivienne Walt, Time, 14 May 2018 Macron, a former economy minister, launched his new political party just months before the vote, exasperated at years of government dysfunction. Vivienne Walt, Fortune, 17 Aug. 2017 Exasperated with having to use her $35,000 salary to purchase those essentials, which sometimes cost upwards of $2,000, Danks decided on a bold move. Michelle Darrisaw, Southern Living, 26 July 2017

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.

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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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Time Traveler for exasperate

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The first known use of exasperate was in 1534

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Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Exasperate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exasperate. Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for exasperate



English Language Learners Definition of exasperate

: to make (someone) very angry or annoyed


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

Kids Definition of exasperate

: to make angry


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