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 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, "Wisconsin's percent positive coronavirus rate continues downward trend as Milwaukee restaurants and state parks prepare to open," 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, "Whoooaaa Duuuuude: Why We Stretch Words in Tweets and Texts," 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, "Review: 'Scoob!' falls short as an exciting reintroduction to Mystery Inc. and its iconic talking dog," 15 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, Detroit Free Press, "Animated ‘Scooby-Doo’ reboot is hounded by complications," 14 May 2020 More Ventilators Ventilators are clearly at the heart of a Right to Repair dispute that the COVID-19 outbreak has exasperated. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Hospitals Need to Fix Ventilators. Why Won't Manufacturers Let Them?," 16 Apr. 2020 In dueling campaign statements between the two campaigns, each side accused the other of either inaction or putting policies in place that exasperated the coronavirus outbreak. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Trump and Biden campaigns trade blows over unemployment claims," 2 Apr. 2020 Scientists in Indonesia are exasperated at the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it shambolic and secretive, with a lack of coordination between the national and provincial governments. Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Science | AAAS, "'Open the doors for us.' Indonesian scientists say government snubs offers to help fight coronavirus," 18 Apr. 2020 The idea of a rush to impeachment exasperates the Speaker, who points out that the White House limited the evidence available with its unprecedented stonewalling. Time, "'We've Upped the Ante.' Why Nancy Pelosi Is Going All in Against Trump," 9 Jan. 2020

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

11 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exasperate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exasperate. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for exasperate


How to pronounce exasperate (audio)

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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