1 of 2


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

transitive verb

: 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
: 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
obsolete : to make more grievous : aggravate


2 of 2


ex·​as·​per·​ate ig-ˈza-sp(ə-)rət How to pronounce exasperate (audio)
: irritated or annoyed especially to the point of injudicious action : exasperated
: roughened with irregular prickles or elevations
exasperate seed coats

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."

Did you know?

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."

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

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
The prince’s tell-all memoir, Spare, showed how fractured their relationship was and exasperated public opinion. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 16 Feb. 2024 Citizens exasperated by the cable’s failure were, of course, unlikely to want souvenirs made from it. Robert Klara, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Feb. 2024 Two of the negotiators in the border talks, Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, and Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent, defended their agreement on the Senate floor ahead of the votes on Wednesday, appearing exasperated at times by the GOP's swift opposition. Kaia Hubbard, CBS News, 7 Feb. 2024 Perron’s second goal represented another breakdown, only exasperated by a less-than-ideal line change. Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News, 3 Jan. 2024 The end of pandemic-era housing policies and disastrous wildfire seasons in recent years exasperated an existing housing crisis in California. Theara Coleman, theweek, 13 Jan. 2024 Their vibe is more tough and exasperated than fragile or exhausted. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 11 Jan. 2024 As The Times reported: Homendy was visibly exasperated by the loss of the black box recording. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2024 President Joe Biden was exasperated at not more quickly being informed of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's ongoing hospitalization -- which was only publicly revealed late last week after several days -- a U.S. official tells ABC News. Martha Raddatz, ABC News, 7 Jan. 2024
At the very least, polarization will introduce uncertainty in foreign affairs and exasperate U.S. allies. Rachel Myrick, Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2021 His memoir might well exasperate readers who clawed their way into the kingdom that Russert willingly renounced. Kara Voght, Washington Post, 4 May 2023 On the other hand, plastic can still be felt through the sheets and exasperate body heat, resulting in an uncomfortable night's sleep. Samantha Parsons, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exasperate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exasperate was in 1534


Dictionary Entries Near exasperate

Cite this Entry

“Exasperate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exasperate. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


exasperated; exasperating
: to make angry : annoy, irritate

More from Merriam-Webster on exasperate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!