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 Many Democrats, who understand that their policies will remain mere aspirations if Republicans retain control of the Senate, are exasperated that three of their aspiring presidents are not seeking Senate seats next year. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: For the Democrats, it’s winnowing time," 4 Aug. 2019 Though few people will ever have to make Pop Rocks or Cheetos from scratch, many see themselves in Saffitz’s exasperated sighs and looks of existential despair. Marella Gayla, BostonGlobe.com, "Meet Claire Saffitz, the Internet’s favorite pastry chef," 27 Aug. 2019 Want to know a surefire way to exasperate your boss? Anne Fisher, Fortune, "5 Ways to Turn Your Summer Internship into a Job Offer," 1 Aug. 2019 Trump irked Trump had been irked that he was being blamed for the fallout for Pence’s accommodations, sources told CNN, and Pence — who keeps a close eye on his media coverage — was also exasperated by the negative attention. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Pence facing heat over decision to stay at Trump’s resort," 4 Sep. 2019 Mr Trump, exasperated with the war, was close to signing an agreement with the Taliban that would have begun the process of American withdrawal. The Economist, "Donald Trump fires John Bolton, his third national security adviser," 10 Sep. 2019 The fracas has exasperated administration officials who would rather prepare disaster relief efforts than clean up after the president’s comments. Los Angeles Times, "Trump tries to reroute hurricane to fit his reality, continuing a pattern," 5 Sep. 2019 Rivals unloaded on Biden, who was exasperated that anyone would construe his invocation of Eastland as praise. Philip Elliott, Time, "Why Joe Biden's Campaign is Struggling," 25 July 2019 Mâconnais wines can be exasperating in their variety, with almost 40 different potential sub-regional designations. Fortune, "Wine Drinkers Should Pay More Attention to This Lesser-Known Spot in Burgundy," 10 Aug. 2019

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

13 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Exasperate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exasperates. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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