ex·​as·​per·​ate | \ig-ˈza-spə-ˌrāt \
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 \

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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Other Words from exasperate


exasperatedly adverb
exasperatingly \ig-​ˈza-​spə-​ˌrā-​tiŋ-​lē \ adverb

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


The criticism of his latest movie is sure to exasperate his admirers. We were exasperated by the delays.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Trump aides and outside advisers were generally exasperated by the tweet, describing it in interviews as unplanned. Elise Viebeck, The Seattle Times, "With ‘Horseface,’ Trump initiates another personal attack on a female adversary," 16 Oct. 2018 Kavanaugh’s marathon evasiveness was enough to make a gal wish for a guest spot from Andy Cohen, whose blithly exasperated yet effective interview techniques were desperately needed here. Megan Angelo, Glamour, "The Kavanaugh Hearings, Day 2: If He Doesn't Make the Supreme Court, He'd Make a Great Real Housewife," 5 Sep. 2018 The adorable 'grams continued, with Lili (who could be an Instagram comedian TBH) sharing a selfie of her looking up at a seemingly exasperated Cole. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse Joked About the Blood Moon on Instagram," 28 July 2018 European officials are broadly exasperated with Mr. Trump’s twitter announcements and threats, not all of which translate to actions but most of which stoke uncertainties and pressure fraying trans-Atlantic relations. Emre Peker, WSJ, "Trump Threatens 20% Tariff on European Cars, Seeks More U.S. Production," 22 June 2018 She’s in pursuit of two invisible children, Leanne and Danny, whose hijinks exasperate and entertain her, ping-ponging her between states of fury and devotion. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Theater Can Be Dishearteningly Inaccessible. Carey Mulligan’s Devastating New Play Is Changing That.," 27 June 2018 This lackadaisical attitude is beyond exasperating. The Kansas City Star Editorial Board, kansascity, "Why is Gov. Eric Greitens leaving the Missouri Ethics Commission to languish?," 14 Mar. 2018 Having Mr Trump sit and listen as other leaders drone on would seem the perfect way to exasperate him. The Economist, "Will Donald Trump be Triumphant, Tetchy or Torpedo?," 5 July 2018 LeBron James stood at halfcourt exasperated at his teammate. Sam Amick, USA TODAY, "Warriors survive Game 1 vs. Cavs after J.R. Smith's apparent blunder forced overtime," 31 May 2018

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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Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for exasperate

The first known use of exasperate was in 1534

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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 \
exasperated; exasperating

Kids Definition of exasperate

: to make angry

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